Trout season opening
The first day of trout season, an appointment that in my virtual private calendar I marked this year with what can be called a minimalist approach. This in regards of the type of river which was priviledged and for the simplified dressing brought along. A box of fly that I can fit in a pocket, normal walking boots (waterproof) and no waders. The challenge has the flavour of ancient times and it relates to a concept of fair play whereby the downsize of the angler's resources increase the chance of our friends the Fish.
The downsize of the equipment is an apportunity to be closer to the environment and observe the nature from more angles and standpoints. The selected water is a tiny mountain stream at about 1000 meter a.s.l., an alpine torrent. I have not been here for ages. The current regulation allows all type of fishing, including course angling, and it is not particoularly restrictive for what concerns the number of trouts that can be killed (10) and their minimum size (20 cm). Additionally, no stock fish immission or artificial re-population is ever taking place here. Therefore my expectations are proportioned to the reality of the environment when it goes to the trout average size or even the actual chances to catch fish at all. But the surroundings are charming, the nature around the stream untouched, the woods with a carpet on white and lila flowers. And most of all the water is not subject, at this height and lack of civilation, to any form of human pollution.
In the water, under a stone I immediately notice a huge perla marginata larvae, a large stonefly which I estimate to measure head to tail a good 35 mm. Knowing the sensitiveness to pollution of these creatures, I am glad to confirm my first hypotesis on water quality. Plenty of ephemeroptera nymphs, dark brown Leptophlebiidae and several Hetpageniidae of the Ecdyonurus genus, are present, along with some diptera larvae of the athericidae family.
In the air I can spot very few small dark plecoptera. They are not enough to let me decide to mount a dry fly and in myself prevaled the temptation to use something representing a prey real close to what these wild trouts might be feeding right now. The large presence of caddis and immature ephemeroptera larvae, let me opt for a medium sized weighted mayfly nymph, taking care of picking up the ones with transparent wingcase. The hunt has begun and the stream offers many would-be hot spots which could host the trout. It is just amazing to cast the fly in the green chrystal pools withuot hearing any other sound than the tinkling of the running water. While I am hoping for the first contact the sky turns black and an annoying rain starts falling reminding that crazy month of March is still ruling.
A gaze in the distance shows me the sun shining in a near valley. I decide to face one hour drive and move to a different place. The altitude is now 500 meter, the stream wider, the water yet crystal and cold. The air temperature is a bit warmer here. A rapid exam of the surroundings reveals some flying insects. In the whirling water by a rock, a number of sedges dance on the weater, laying their eggs.
I examine a couple of them, they are dark spotted segde of the Philopotamidae family. There are also some maylfies hatching, mid sized dark Leptophlebiidae and a couples of Ecdyonurus. Yet too few to justify fish activity on the surface and therefore I sitck to my nymph, in a slighlty bigger size for the water is deeper here.
The first small brown trout decides to take the fly and it is soon swimming back into her element. The catch brings back enthusiasm and energy. There is plenty of larvae of Heptageniidae of any size in the water, Ecdyonurus and some other smaller ones which I cannot identify but that look very much like the ones I found in the previous stream. Thus I insist with a nymph patter as I walk on, descending the river.
Finally in a deep pool, with slow running current, like in a mirage, some rings are enlarging. After trying few dry patterns representing dark mayflies without success, I decide to stop and observe. The type of slow take on the surface, the shape of the ring let me suppose that maybe it is not a drift of emergerging mayflies. I move my attention closer to the liquid element and finally I spot some tiny tubes, drifting on the waterfilm. It is a hatch of some sort of diptera. The best match I have in my fly box is a small hackle-winged, tied with spare grizzly hackles.
I mount it on thinner leader and softly land it in the area of activity and strike ! That was it. The deserved conclusion of a wonderful day of early spring. As I deeply inspire the air filled of the scent of nature, for a instant, like the perception of the reflex of a fish under the water , I seize the happiness in that late afternoon.
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