By Allen R. Crise
Ever try unhooking a trout at 7:30 pm. while sitting in a float
boat with a rock wall rising 100 feet above your head to the
west. The pine trees are over hanging the opposite bank, blocking
out what light that might illuminate the area. Cypress trees are
scattered along the up-stream side of the deep dark ripple-free pool.
Here and there the feeding trout and be heard taking in night-feeding
insects, blurps and splashes to the right and to the left.
Closer, you look, trying to see a reflection of the sky off the
rings to the closest target. Casting your dark elk hair fly, trying
to 'Zen' the rise and take. Your senses are honed to a sharpness
that is both exaltering and draining. Sometimes you find yourself
holding your breath so you can stop the movement of your waders.
Leaning a little forward maybe cocking your head towards the area
where you think you carefully placed your fly, as it is drifting along
in unseen currents.
Upstream the startled cry of a great blue heron disrupts the stillness
and makes you take a little bigger breath - breaking the spell and
reminding you that you are not alone in the darkness. There are
other night fishermen. The stillness returns as the wing beats fade
and dimmish into the blackness of the surroundings. Above a star
or planet appears as a single point of brightness like a pin hole in
the blanket of the night. Shadows of night flyers buffing the air
overhead could be a forewarning of the darkness' unseen danger.
Moving a little closer to the rock wall of the cliff, that seem to
have grown even higher and more imposing so as to over power
the slickness of the water's flow. The fly line tightens, you feel
the power of the fish as he sends throbs through the rod's grip
hoping for a splash to give you a sense of which direction he is
headed and maybe the size. (Big splash = big fish) Fighting a trout
in the darkness of a flowing stream while sitting in a float tube is
something close to conducting an orchestra to a waltz, played on
a radio. Sometimes you just get carried away with the moment.
The line takes a different tug to the far side. Rising to the strain
of your rod's steady pull, not giving up, but losing his battle the
trout gets closer until you can net him from the darkness of the
liquid surface. You remove the hook in the hard light of the
mini-light held in your teeth. " Thank you big fellow, Thank you Lord,"
I sense rather than see the movement close to the rocks, as I
backcast to reposition the elk hair a little closer for the drift
to intercept the big brown. A tremendous SPLASH! that brings
the hair up on the back of my neck, like someone is dropping
bowling ball size boulders from the cliff above. I looked up,
hoping that I could see a silhouette against the night sky for that
might be better than having something that big in the water with
me. Moving up stream towards the bridge and the take out point,
not directly but making sure I can travel the way and the way is
clear, because I have to travel backwards in a float boat. I picked
out a light above the tree line on a tower, as a land mark directly
opposite the direction I would have to travel.
Well maybe it would be a good fight. I again cast toward the rocks.
This time the SPLASH! is even louder and bigger. Again I scan
the cliff and the surrounding water.
Well I guess it was time to start for home. My heart slows to the
steady beat matching the rhythm of my fins, or my feet slow down
to something closer to a power stroke. I leave a wake in the night
As I pull up to the bridge abutment I am feeling a little foolish
that a beaver's tail could spook me so badly, that I stopped
fishing. I was fishing the Broken Bow, Beavers Bend State Park, Oklahoma. ~ Allen R. Crise
Lighter Side Archive