This is the third part in this series. Read the first here and the second here. Subscribe by entering your email address in the right sidebar to receive a notification of new content on Casting Across.
I sat in my car out in front of my house. I had three hours, and I intended to fish. But where?
Even in suburbia, there are plenty of options. There are some ponds nearby that are filthy with carp, and I’ve had these big goldfish on the brain lately. I’m only a few minutes away from medium and large rivers. There are smallmouth, catfish, and anything else that decides it wants to live in Northern Virginia. I can literally drive five miles in any direction and be on good water.
But I couldn’t get that little pool, off the side of a busy trail, out of my mind.
All my warm water gear was in the car, so I had to hop out and run to quickly get my three weight. I plucked a half dozen puffy dry flies from a trout box and dropped them in an empty Altoid tin. Then I was off.
It was a quick drive from my house to the trailhead. To get to a legal parking space I had to pass by “the spot.” This took me to what is essentially the backyard of one of my former homes. Pulling in there was somewhat nostalgic, but in a “fishing context.” Perhaps I was a little focused / obsessed, but I wasn’t thinking about memories of family or school at that place. I was thinking about all the places I fished when I lived there. How I could have very well gone to this particular place to fish if I had known about it. How I could have figured it out, gotten to know it well, and determined if there were indeed trout in my town.
The next part of the adventure was the most exciting yet. I got to scamper across six lanes of traffic with a sling pack and a fly rod. I imagine that this is a bizarre sight for a passing motorist, even when there is a significant body of water nearby. When there is a man darting over a major thoroughfare when there isn’t any sort of pond or river in close proximity? Maybe I put them at greater danger from being distracted than I brought on myself.
I made it across, in case you were wondering.
Once I was on the trail, I was immediately paranoid again. I was going to show my hand. Blow my cover. Let every worm dunking meat fisherman in the zip code know that there were big, hungry, naïve trout ripe for the picking. I tried to slink down the trail inconspicuously. Seven feet of graphite make it hard to be inconspicuous. Or to slink, for that matter. I stopped to break down the rod into two pieces, and caught the attention of a dog walker coming from the opposite direction. He gave me a double take, but didn’t break his pace.
Needlessly frazzled, I assumed I passed the hole. It felt like I’d walked too far. But the last time I was here, I was running. I quickened my pace, and started down a gentle grade. Then I saw the foliage thicken, and I knew I found the spot. Staying back from the drop off to the water’s edge, I began to formulate my approach.
For some reason, I was treating my first cast like it was going to be my only chance at a fish here. Life is getting busier, but not to the point where I wasn’t going to be able to fish anymore. Especially five minutes from my house. And all of the panic about alerting other anglers? Those thoughts come and are quickly followed with more reasonable, less crazy ones that hover on or around reality. But it probably comes down to the few days of anticipation and speculation building this moment up.
I followed a wildlife trail away from the path, and made a mental note to do a thorough tick check after I got home. The pool went from the deep, blue-green head to a gurgling riffle at the tail. Below, it emptied into a swampy slough. I could feel a cool rising up off the water in the humid late morning. All in all, it was a very different little ecosystem than most other tiny creeks in the region. My hopes were high.
I decided to tie on a small dry. My choice was a mangled parachute blue wing olive that was rendered essentially a greyish hackle and a bright post. It seemed appropriate. Not gaudy, but not super subtle either. All the knots held fast. A good sign.
Moving low and silently, I stepped in to the tail end of the pool. It was cold. Cold enough, I was certain, for trout.
Another part of this series will be posted in the next weeks. Subscribe by entering your email address in the right sidebar to receive a notification of new content on Casting Across.