A cool early morning signals a kind of rebirthing. I am leaving the workshop where I just picked up a new prototype. It’s a 6’8” #3 and it needs a real test; the river test. Making bamboo rods is my therapy, something that keeps me alive to each bit of the plane, to each chip that falls lightly.
The sun peeked behind the edge of the Bitter Mountains; a light frost covered lawn around the Little Bridge while I walked on the small path that took me to the river. A black stallion arched his neck with a touch of vanity; he snorts and neighed in the morning fog. I kept walking in the direction of the river and the melody of its sound started to become louder. As soon as I got to the bank a kingfisher whizzed past my eyes at a surreal speed. The creature stops his flight only a few seconds on the branch of a walnut tree. He showed me his beautiful plumage, then, suddendly, he drops upside down reaching the water’s surface.
The river was full of new life……little baetis flying around and magic circles appearing on the water’s surface. I joined in this dance starting to twirl my line on this sweet new rod, dropping it on the water’s surface with my deception made of feathers. First catch, then a second and a third one.
The old walnut tree offered its recovering shade during the hottest hours of the day as I paused to take in all that the river offers. Life is like a river. It runs sometimes out of control but gives us new perspectives as we move forward so tomorrow is different from what we were yesterday…… day by day, bridge after bridge around each bend.
Small nymphs stop for a while on the rocks covered by a few inches of water. Then, when the moment is ripe, they keep climbing to the edge to free themselves from their old appearences. They open their wings just to get them dried and then they fly away.
The fresh air of the evening started to walk along the river banks. It caught me napping under the shadow of the old walnut tree. Wake up, a nice hatch of Rithrogena Semicolorata was beginning. I knew that soon trout would start again their dance. However I think the day had already given me the joys that I needed and to ask more of the river would be ungenerous. I take a sigh of pleasure, gather my things and I get up to take the road I had traveled that morning.
Suddenly I looked into a small portion of the river’s opposite bank. There, right next to a small current, the water entered under the willows close to the bank, forming a small area of calm water, where thanks to a strange reversal, the water was advancing in the opposite direction and going back a couple of meters upstream. At the exact moment when my eyes panned this stretch of water, a small bubble was formed on the surface, as if a big mouth had sucked the water. I stopped to look again. A couple of minutes and nothing happened. Then suddenly, the little bubble appeared again accompained by a small light water spray. I’m sure that the fish I had just seen feeding had to be one of the “old” so called by Archangelo, in one of his stories in the barber shop.
Big trout are smart Arcangelo said. When they decide to eat on the surface it is never so loud and brash as do the “young boys “. The “old” ones sip gently and patiently, to avoid the possibility of being easily discovered.
This would be the real test for new bamboo rod. I made the first cast but it’s too short, so I did the second one and my fly gently kissed the surface and settled a few inches ahead of the rising fish. It stopped there a few seconds and then apparently breaking the laws of physics began to go upstream, following the flow of the water. Once the fly got to the point where I saw the first bubble it disappeared like it was swallowed by a wide and deep vortex. The following seconds were of total calm, as me and my opponent were anticipating the moves of each other. Then the water opened up and a huge tail came up to the surface; the crazed beast headed for the deep water. She made the first move, now it was my turn. I made two steps and I gently put my rod tip up; trying to avoid my line getting caught in the rocks where she tried to find her salvation. I got into the water trying to get closer but at each step, she started to run with the power of a train. I decided to let her run and burn so energy. Oh the flex of boo!! The inconvenience of that evening had sent her into a rage and I couldn’t do anything but try to limit the damage. Several minutes passed in the battle of push and pull. Then finally I started to feel her force slowing down. She tried the last gasp for freedom but the energy wasn’t as strong as before. She gave up lying on her side as she slid into my net.
Special days like this deserve to be rememebered. So just before sleep, I like to write about each stream day in a small diary. I fell asleep just a few seconds after I started to write about the battle between me and that “old” one on my new rod.