The cold water was a welcome feeling on my legs as I eased my way out into the current. With nearly a month gone-by since I had last held a rod it was a long overdue sensation as well as a much needed bit therapy. The recent weeks had brought with it many obstacles, from the stresses of life and its ailments to the annual archery season; the result was my fly rods had been collecting dust. But life's ailments were easing a bit and I had a fat doe in the freezer compliments of the local oak ridges, so it was time. Having rigged at the truck for the walk into the stream I was ready to go. In my hand was my Far-and-Fine, lined with a 5-weight double-taper line, 5 foot furled mono leader and 4 foot of 5x fluorocarbon tippet. My fly of choice was a size 14 Squirrels Nest. All that remained was my indicator, of which I chose a yellow ½" Thing-a-ma-bobber and looped it into my leader just above the tippet ring. A quick glance upstream and my roll-cast flipped the rig to the head of the riffle.
The first few drifts were uneventful as I slowly became part of the scene; the rhythm of the indicator dancing along the current was hypnotic, and had there been a strike, I probably would have missed it. Then on about the 5th cast I noticed, too late, the slight dip in the indicator and my lift of the rod proved fruitless. OK. Enough of that as my mind finally caught up to my current place in the world. "I saw you", I thought to myself out loud, and as my indicator drift over the same spot for a 2nd time I was much quicker. My reward was a fat 12 inch brown trout dancing on the end of my line with the little gold bead-head fly tucked tightly in the corner of his jaw. I short fight in the colder water and in moments I was admiring his colors. Although not the buttery gold of a summer or early fall fish, his silver flanks with distinct black spotting made up for the faded orange ones which they surrounded. It was almost as if nature had stripped away the color along with the falling of the leaves, leaving only the silvery-grey and metallic hues much like the bare branches of the tree themselves. In all things there is beauty to be seen however, so I admired the change for what it was and smiled as the fish slipped from my hand and returned to its lie among the rocks on the bottom.
Turning back to my rod I noticed my indicator had become entangled a bit and I struggled with cold fingers to free it of its malady. In the end it became easier to simply remove it and then untangle the leader itself, and as I did so I inadvertently dropped the little plastic ball into the stream. With what probably looked like a bout of stationary panic to the casual observer, I nearly fell over in my scramble to catch the rapidly escaping indicator before it was gone forever. Unable to do so however, I stood and watched it dance off towards waters unknown, lost forever. I laughed at myself for my moment of scramble. I probably looked just as I had as a youth when I dropped a bobber off the side of the dock on the local pond. I watched helplessly, staring over the edge at it below me after my short juggling act, so close, but out of my reach short of an unwanted plunge. Yet here I was doing the same routine years later. Had I changed so little as to react just the same some 50 years later? I would like to think not. Surely I'm now light years beyond that small boy with a spinning rig and bobber! After all, I'm now a fly fisherman! I no longer even use bobbers! I thought about that as I looked down at the small zip-lock bag of indicators in my hand. Something told me that quite possibly the only person I was fooling was myself. Miniature bobbers stared back at me. On the package it said strike indicator with "trapped air technology". It appeared to me however, to be the exact same thing as was that red-and-white plastic bobber back in 1968 on a small farm pond in Pennsylvania. I thought to myself that I really had not come all that far after all. I could hear my dad's voice in my ear again saying, "You're walkin' a little slow boy, but you're catching up." His normal response for whenever I was having trouble grasping the obvious. "Yeah, yeah, I hear ya." I answered out loud as I roll-cast upstream once more, smiling to myself. The next cast brought with it another slight dip of the indicator and yet again the weight of a fish which was a near perfect minting of the 1st. As I popped the hook from its jaw and released the fish the thought in my mind slipped from my lips without thinking. "I could do this all day", I said as the words sort of caught me off guard. Maybe the fact was that I had never really gone beyond that young boy when it came to being on the water after all? Or maybe I had just come full-circle? Either way, I was content. Taking a couple steps downstream, I flipped my rig upstream once more and watched that little yellow bobber dance along the current.