It's been at least a month since the trout opener, and there are still fish in the river, but the 2011 spring steelhead season's done for me. Most of my little friends have made it back to the lake, or made it to someone's table, and less than a third are still in the rivers.
With summer's imminent approach and spring's undeniable presence, nature has made up in a couple of weeks what it would normally have taken more than a month to do. Plenty of rain followed by plenty of sunshine, followed again by plenty of rain, and full grown ferns grow where even fiddleheads couldn't be found just a few weeks ago. The grass in the back yard is like a savanna, and most trees have unfurled their verdure. If May 1st felt like mid April, May 21st feels like... well... May 21st. She has caught up with herself, and the fish alone are ample sign that this is true.
When I saw the river gauge, after the most recent rainy period, I knew instinctively that I needed to get my buttocks down to my favourite river pronto. Consciously, I thought that this was because I should expect a bonanza, the first big wave of the late spring steelhead exodus; but I think my bones knew otherwise. This was going to be my last chance for the spring, period.
There is a little bit of irony also in the fact that yesterday was the only full day of fishing that I got, throughout the entire opening season. Any other trip was over before 1:30pm, and some were over even before that. If I could have had a full day of fishing on May 1st... But then again, if I count the eggs in my basket, there is no reason to feel disappointment - unless it's the usual disappointment; that is, the current steelheading season is over and we have to wait for the next one. October is now so remote as to appear eternally distant.
Time to turn the Mind over to other things, the yard, the house, work, etc... I don't mention the ones that are always on that list: Laura, Isaac, Samuel. Ubiquitous as always.
All the fish I hooked or caught or saw, on this last day, were for the most part very well recovered, bright, silver and energetic. Acrobatics ruled the day and were welcome distractions from the otherwise monotonous routine of eeking out drifts in every nook and cranny. Free spinning casts, feeling the load on the rod at every cast, gauge the landing of the float, watch it and guide it as it follows the flow down; repeat. Repeat and repeat.
So, yes, when at the end of the day the float went down to a dubious rock, a loose hookset on which I felt a sinewy back-and-forth, and reeled in a bit; and set it right - to watch the bright male, the last fish I catch this season, crash up out of the clear flow; with the rod up high and backing away to get more leverage and more tension in the line - it must have been a sight even just watching little old me doing this microcosmic "River Runs through it" routine. Yes, it was the perfect ending.
It occurred to me as I made the leisurely drive home, over the local back-roads; I couldn't have scripted it any better if I'd tried.