Up before the sun again. That’s not saying much this time of year. It is April 14, a full two months before the solstice. Still, rising early is half the fun of a fishing trip. The quiet solitude gives you time to reflect and to think ahead to the day before you, to watch the daylight creep over the hill with fresh hope in its rays. It makes everything fresh.
Today we are heading south. A front is coming in and that means wind. But, if you wait for a perfect day in the spring, you will be waiting a long time. You take what you can get, adjust as necessary, and prepare to untangle knots. There may be caddis coming off in the afternoon, could be some lingering baetis. Will the cloud cover bring about a BWO hatch? Will the nymph action make up for it if the wind keeps the fish off the surface? Will they chase a streamer through the riffles. Ah, it is spring after all, the fickle mistress of summer, the temperamental youngster throwing tantrums on a whim. And nothing is for sure. But that is what makes it so worthwhile.
Today, I am going with two good friends, a prolific dry-fly enthusiast, and an up-and-coming nympher. This is the kind of water both of them can find success. When the former and I head out we have been known to chase hatches for miles, drive to the edge of the state just to get skunked, and nearly tip my truck trying to get to a river that may or may not be one of those hidden gems, a true secret in a time when there are no more secrets in this state. The latter is probably the most gregarious person I know. He finds joy in every moment of the day and the bright side to every dark moment. When we fish together, he focuses as much on the blue herons and rock formations as he does the fishing, which makes me slow down and do the same. This is why I know the trip will be worthwhile by my standards. I will come away with more than just pictures today.
The coffee is nearly gone. My breakfast settled firmly in my stomach. Gear is stowed. My wife, who often fishes with me, is reading the paper quietly as the keyboard clicks away. Her presence is welcomed. She understands the excitement coursing through me right now but is not interested in tagging along on this one. She is more of a fair-weather flyfisher.
I am rested and ready. I know I will be tested today, but don’t know how or when. I do know I have prepared for this test by doing my homework, and studying hard. I have packed for a variety of potential conditions, but would really like to pick at least one off the top and maybe one on a streamer. I will try to remember why I am really fishing, and not get caught up in the results being the only measure of success. But I must admit, I want to ace this one.
Ah yes. The morning before a fishing trip. It is our locker room before a big game, before a prize fight, before we take the stage. We live the day in advance in our heads with nervous anticipation. We focus. Try to remember it is just a sport, a hobby really, an excuse for grownups to feed their inner child.
Coffee is gone. It’s my turn to drive. Time to head out.
There is nothing like a morning before. It makes all the mornings between this one and the next trip easier to bear.