In my area of Southern Ontario, the magnificent blossoms of the stately magnolia make their first appearance in late April and early May. They are a welcome site for those of us who have been counting the days until winter relinquishes its chilly grip. For fly fishers, they signal that the spring trout season is upon us! Spring is a wonderful time. Warm sunlight and spring showers awaken the landscape with plants and foliage displaying simultaneous shades of green. Delicate spring flowers and lilies whose petals are brimming of white, gold, purple and blue make their appearance. The musical sounds of returning songbirds, drumming of roughed grouse and the translucent beauty of reflected sunlight from pools and riffles adds to the splendor of the spring morning. Life within the streams and rivers is awakening too. For the winter-weary fly fisher, the emergence of the first denizen of spring, the olive-bodied duns of the Hendrickson mayfly, Ephemerella subvaria is a welcome site indeed.
Over the long winter months, I have been perfecting my imitations of the Hendrickson dry fly and snowy winter nights have been spent thinking about the allure that constitutes dry fly fishing. There are many attractive aspects to fishing with a dry fly and I imagine the exceptional day during a Hendrickson hatch when they all come together, when everything that you do aligns perfectly with the nature of your surroundings. On this day, you have left your ineptitude at home and your timing is perfect! Dry fly fishing is like no other form of fishing. You watch the feeding trout from your vantage point; you have the best view of all and the whole game is visible. You see the fish, you follow his every rise to the emerging Hendrickson duns - your eyes never leave him as you follow his every motion. On this occasion, he does not break his regular pattern of feeding, which would indicate that you have likely alerted him and put him down. As you watch him, you can see that he is hungry, but particular. You judge your timing to be right and offer him your best imitation, one carefully considered and crafted over the long winter months. Your cast is perfect! Your rod, line and fly are an extension of your arm, moved by your muscles, signals from your nerves and instructions from your brain. How surely you throw, and how delicately your fly lands on the water, wings upright, mere inches above the feeding fish. You have an extraordinary sense of power and confidence. Your anticipation of the outcome heightens! You watch as your fly floats delicately toward him. The fly approaches his position and you see the rise and the take – he has been deceived with your imitation and the battle is on! Just like a Shakespearian play, the whole drama has played out before your eyes. You play the fish expertly; your fine split-cane rod absorbs the runs and airborne acrobatics of your hooked prize, protecting the delicate tippet against breakage. After a worthy struggle, he succumbs, this beautiful creation of nature – the trout. You admire his large size, which is an added attraction, for dry fly fishing is more appealing when fish run large. A big fish is a prize. He does not get that way by being careless, a big trout has survived by being crafty - his wariness and cunning grow with his size. You take a quick photo then gently release your trophy back to his lair.
Today, I am heading out to my home river, hopefully for this perfect day!