There are those who believe places like this simply emerge from the mist at the beginning of each season, like some rustic Brigadoon.
Those people have never chased a possum from beneath a bunk with a broom. As long as the lights are on, the toilets flush, there’s a fire in the stove and — most importantly — the ice is off the lake, they are free to believe in magic but, just between you and me, there’s a bit more to it than that.
Getting six old camps up and running by the last Saturday in April is one thing; keeping them running is another. Throw in a bunch of anglers at the height of black fly season and May becomes a bit of a blur, even if one’s left eye isn’t swollen shut by a fly bite in the lashes. They can be enough to make a guy want to thrash his arms over his head and go running into the woods screaming but, deep in my heart, I love them and I try to remain stoic. For the flies, I just try to remember the bug spray.
Needless to say, it can be a while before the opportunity arises for me to do a little fishing myself. It’s only natural to feel a little rusty the first time out but the grip of my rod felt like the familiar handshake of an old friend and the rhythm of my casts returned soon enough, even after eight months on the shelf.
Poking around with a gold-ribbed hare’s ear nymph got me a couple of waterlogged sticks before I laid into one of the biggest, baddest, sunken tree trunks in the lake, which broke me off after a five-minute fight. It was a clean break and new tippet to boot, so I took it as encouraging that I still can tie knots.
A rise to my right caught my attention and I noticed dozens of small mayflies drifting across the surface. So confident was I of my not so diminished skills that I determined — without picking one up — that they were #16s, which was good because I had just stocked up on blue-wing olives in exactly that size, which most anglers will tell you is pretty small.
I had the knot, I had the cast, and I was sure I had the fly, but when my #16 BWO settled onto the water it became clear the naturals were really much smaller, as my previously small fly looked like a luxury yacht among a fleet of daysailers. Evidently, some skills do diminish with disuse, the judging of size being one of them and it is good to get a natural fly in hand before selecting an artificial.
And, when all else fails, just take some pictures.
(For what it’s worth, a #18 olive soft hackle did the trick, or at least prevented a skunking, that afternoon. Also for what it’s worth, the photos above were taken with an Olympus TG4.)
Tight lines, you wubbas.