The weather forecast was clear: the end was nigh for our little spell of Indian summer. Highs on Friday and Saturday were in the high 60s, while Sunday wouldn’t even hit 50. Since my wife and I would be traveling to visit friends three states away on Saturday, Friday would be my last shot. I’m lucky enough to live less than 50 yards from a small tributary of the Battenkill, and at this time of year browns from the ‘Kill are heading upstream to spawn. Recent rains meant that there was plenty of water in the stream, as well.
I rigged my 4-weight with a Stimulator and a Flashback Pheasant Tail Nymph dropper, but since it was pretty late for dry action, I considered the bushy Stimmie just an indicator for the nymph. I started right at the bottom of my hill, where the river makes a nearly 90-degree turn, creating a deep run. After covering the bottom of the run, I moved up to the head and made a cast to the inside seam. Just as I was about to pick up at the end of the drift, I saw the mouth of a decent trout close around the Stimulator, but I set the hook a fraction too soon and pulled the fly away. Although I couldn’t get that fish to take again, I figured that the dry-fly eat was a good sign and I’d surely find more feeding fish as I worked my way upstream. Wrong. After covering about a half mile of river, I cursed my luck, reeled up, and headed home.
The next morning, that missed trout was still bugging me as we packed for our trip. I was all ready to go when my wife announced that she was hopping in the shower. “Huh,” I thought. “I’ve got about ten minutes . . . . Could I?”
I ran outside, grabbed the still-rigged rod and my net, and bolted down the hill. Since I didn’t have waders on, I had to cast from the bank, which required a backhand delivery. The first two casts produced nothing, but on the third, the Stimulator went under, and I set the hook. The trout immediately went airborne and then bulldogged on the bottom of the pool. I worked it into shallower water, where it jumped again, and then I finally got the net under it. I snapped a couple quick photos, released the trout, and ran back up the hill. When I got inside, my wife was still in the shower.
So often, as anglers, we envision how a fishing scenario is going to play out, but things rarely turn out exactly the way we expect them to. That trout was hardly trophy-size, but I was smiling all day thinking about it.
Phil Monahan is the editor of the Orvis Fly Fishing blog.