I Love a Surprise

I Love a Surprise

Rain was expected all day. It’s not that I won’t fly fish in the rain, but heavy rains in mountains creeks can mean seriously quick rises in water levels. I expected to spend the day inside, maybe watching someone else tie flies at a fly tying demonstration.

I woke up and looked at weather radar….no rain. I looked at the hourly forecast…cloudy but no rain until mid-day. A fire was lit to eat breakfast, feed the critters, and pack my gear. Before 9am I was heading out the door. Destination? My favorite creek.

When I turned into the parking area, elk were everywhere…on the road, in the woods, and a juvenile elk was calling for its mama. That sound echoed through the area as I assembled my fly rod and slid into my waders. Elk wandered on the other side of the creek as I walked to the spot calling me.

The water level was absolutely perfect. Down about a foot since the previous weekend, clear, and there were heavy clouds so no shadow to spook already seriously spooky fish.

Wild trout in the Smoky Mountains are no joke in their ability to know you are there. They know flies and large trout commonly swim up to a dry fly, circle it, and I swear they roll their eyes and I hear a ‘tsk-tsk-tsk’ sound as they leisurely swim back to their lair. It’s said that if you can catch wild trout in the Smokies, you can catch them anywhere.

And winter isn’t an easy time to fish here. The water is crystal clear and often you can spook fish from far away, even using your best stalker tactics. My expectations to dance with fish during winter are pretty low.

But yesterday, I had the creek to myself and with no other fly anglers, I must admit I was doing a happy dance of blissful solitude. My communion with the water, trees, rocks, moss, and fish wasn’t interrupted by anything, not even my own monkey mind. It was complete surrender to the connection I share with that little heaven.

I was able to dance with a gorgeous rainbow for a few seconds before blessing her and releasing her back to the creek. And then another, very small brook trout danced with me until it self-released as it approached my boots. 

And then…that massive trout that checked out the dry fly and did the eye roll…or at least I imagine it did an eye roll. That was just as cool as actually catching the others. Just to see them and observe their behavior and interact was so fun!

Nearly four hours of delight in and around the water came as an amazing surprise on a day I was expecting no wading. And then I thought a couple hours…maybe. I would have stayed longer but thinking it would be limited to two hours or less, I only took a small bottle of water and no snacks. So with deep gratitude I started the walk out after two miles of wading and hiking. 

Words are such a limited way to express how wading and interacting so deeply with Nature brings my to balance and peace. Awe and wonder are my constant companions even though I know this creek intimately. The creek is my Beloved friend and teacher and how grateful I am to spend time immersed in the clear waters of life.

The following morning finds the creek rising again due to heavy rain. That perfect wading window closed…for now. But I’ll go back…and soon.

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