The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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June 22, 2014

Those magical summer evenings

It’s starting to get real buggy out there. With the day’s heat and humidity creating pop-up afternoon thunderstorms as common occurrences, it’s a signal that the time is near. This is one of my favorite times of the year to slip into a spring-fed, laurel-choked creek and try to fool a wild trout into striking a big, ugly fly.  

I know the dead-heat of summer doesn’t sound much like trout-fishing time, but I have found it to be one of the most productive times of the year for fly fishing for wild trout. I too love to fish the early and late spring months trying to catch the perfect time when aquatic insects are hatching like crazy and tiny mountain pools seem to be boiling with trout rising sipping in bugs. I too have had grand days of wintertime fishing when Mother Nature shines her warm rays of sun on a deep run awakening the trout into a feeding frenzy.

But for my money I’ll take the cooling hours of a summer’s evening, when the world starts to slip into darkness and the heat of the day escapes quickly into the evening. I am perfectly content casting a land-dwelling bug pattern to a hefty trout in waiting while the light is fading. In fact, hand me a big ugly hopper, a foam beetle or bee, or a big hairy stimulator fly and place me knee deep in a steep mountain canyon with darkness nipping at my heels and I will be perfectly content — even knowing it will be a long walk back to the truck in the dark.  

Just given a chance, even if it is a long shot, that a wild brown trout might just be curious or aggressive enough to lift his head in the current and gulp in my fly is well worth the time and energy it takes to get my ticket punched. The risk/reward ratio may be of-kilter but sometimes it is not about trout after all.

In the dwindling hours of a summer’s evening, when the cool air comes rushing in, there is a sense of calm that comes over the canyon landscape that is truly worth the struggle it takes to be there. It is the time when the daytime creatures start to decrease their activity and creatures of the night are just preparing to become active when time seems to become idle.

Although brief, this slack time allows a human to witness a true calm. And in this modern world of hurry up so we can get there, because we are so busy we can’t wait, I found myself craving the opportunity to witness a true calm even more deeply.

As the last bit of light left the canyon and the first stars of the night sky began to glow, I relaxed my grip and the trout swam freely back into the cold current of the mountain creek. He was returning back to his world and I too was being slowly released back into mine. It was a long way to walk in the dark back to civilization where my vehicle awaited. It was worth every single step along the way.

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