Days with dries

There’s a moment during the spring when things start to come together. With the realization that the new life season is here comes clarity and focus.
You start to notice what’s really important in life. Like bugs.
There are lots of bugs flying around so I figured I’d try and get my first trout on a dry fly this year. Normally I’d go with something like an elk hair caddis or a Griffith’s gnat, but for some reason I dug deeper into my fly box.
I enjoy fly fishing with streamers and nymphs, but dry fly fishing is insane. Seeing a fish rise, gills flared, to hit your fly is unlike anything else in the angling world.
When it comes to how to make that happen, people recommend all sorts of things in all sorts of places. There are tons of never-fail flies out there.
The problem is that in order to try a new one, you have to deviate from what you normally do. Who wants to risk a sure thing for something that might not be better? I know for sure I can use an elk hair caddis with a black body and wire ribbing at this part of the river (you know, next to that one tree) so why would I tie up a bunch of something else if it might not work as well?
Enter internet fly fishing legend Hank Patterson, who said “If somebody came to you, and it wasn’t your birthday, and they handed you a piece of birthday cake, what would you do? You’d eat it. I don’t care if it’s out of season or whatever, I’m still going to eat the thing. It’s the same thing with the fish, they’re going to swim up and, ‘I don’t care whose birthday it is, I’m going to eat it.’”
Big ole stimulator it is.
After about a dozen casts I started to wonder how stupid I was to listen to a guy who was clearly being sarcastic. But a trout came up, thought my stimulator was food and bit. I didn’t even need to set the hook. The fish wasn’t very big, but sometimes you don’t need a big fish to feel smart or even brilliant. The world was right. In a moment like this, you start to wonder ‘Why don’t I do this all the time?’
Then later that day, you fend off whatever excuses are around the house to go make a small fire on the beach. You lie down under the stars and again think, why don’t I do this all the time?
Then you remember that it’s not like every night is beautiful and clear and calm with just enough warmth.
Still it’s those moments that make things up here worth it. The rain is cold, the wind is cold, you can’t see the mountains. You can’t really see the ocean. You can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel because there is none. You go to work and it’s dark. Come home from work and it’s dark. The sun doesn’t really rise, it just goes from black, to gray then back to black. But then you have that day. You catch a fish on a dry fly in March.
You start to realize that you’re not stuck here — you get to live here.

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