I was really pining for some match-the-hatch dry fly action after several futile attempts on the Deerfield last week while fishing with my family. I hiked in to my preferred spot with a goal to catch one trout on a dry fly. It’s a good run where a cold tributary enters the river, and I have done well in the past in that area.
Two anglers came into view as I approached the spot, and one was taking a picture of the other releasing a fish! I meandered close enough so they could hear me, and I hollered some encouragement, gave a thumbs up, and started working back upstream.
A feisty, little smallmouth bass came to hand. Not a great sign. I tried to stay in thigh-deep water to keep cool and enjoy the evening. I found some bugs collecting on the surface of a fishy-looking lie and watched for several minutes as the bugs all eventually floated safely away. Nothing doing.
A few joyous whoops came to my ears from downstream. Two beavers seemed to play defense in the next run, slapping their tails and staying near me. I glanced downstream and saw a bent rod. How the heck were they doing that? At that point, I figured I would head back downstream and check on those guys, if nothing else to chat and watch them work the water.
I watched them release another fish as I walked downstream. They waved me over and said they were just about to head out. Really? As I got closer it was clear to me that they were moving on to give me the spot. I started to feel guilty. “Don’t leave on my account,” I said as they began wading out of their run. They voiced several not-really-excuses-to-warrant-leaving-a-red-hot-fishing-spot reasons: they had far to drive home, they had had a long day already, and they had caught enough fish.
It turns out that that pair was Nick and his father Scott, and they were wrapping up their Father’s Day outing by handing me their spot on a silver platter. They even gave me some tips on what to use and how to approach the fish.
They watched from the bank as I managed to hook up twice in a few minutes. These fellow anglers had turned my Father’s Day outing from a skunk to a slam dunk. Scott offered to take a picture; he did and kindly sent it along.
They headed out, and I ended up playing with a few rainbows and browns. I landed and released the fish quickly by sizing up my tippet and making sure my barbs were pinched down. When I slapped a bug with my line hand, I inadvertently slimed my cheek. I grinned.
My last fish came just at dark when a slurping noise preceded a solid hook-set and noisy splashes. I stayed until the mosquitoes vetoed my presence. The fireflies provided the fireworks on a beautiful walk along the river back towards the car.
I got some very thoughtful gifts this year from the kids, including a sweet brook trout mug and even a “Dadman” t-shirt with a logo similar to Batman. But, my final gift on Father’s Day this year came from anglers who were thoughtful enough to share the river with a stranger.
My shrunken bubble of limited social interaction had been punctured by a generous and thoughtful act of humanity. With everything going on right now in the world, I certainly appreciated it. It is good to be reminded to share what we have; you might just be able to provide exactly what someone else is looking for.
A belated Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there, and a big thanks to my Dad for taking me fishing when I was young: