Oct 8, 2017
A time for
Chris Hunt, Trout Unlimited
Idaho Rocky Mountains.
Trout Unlimited photo.
Phoebe danced around the truck, anxious to start the walk up the familiar
trail past a few bends in the creek, I donned my wading sandals for what
would almost certainly be the last time this year.
I was in a gloomy mood.
Changing seasons, earlier sunsets and, of course, the inevitable prediction
of that first high-country dusting of snow had me in a funk. Couple this
with the constant challenges life throws in for seasoning, and it’s a recipe
for the blues.
My kingdom for a soulful harmonica solo.
Yes, it’s still summer for a few more days, and fall fly fishing is a truly
wonderful experience that doesn’t deserve derision. But things start to die
back this time of year. Aspens are changing up high, going from brilliant
green to dying yellow. The grass is dry and crackly. Even the grasshoppers
are sluggish, having grown fat and clumsy over the last few weeks.
Life is slowing down again. Soon, snow will fall on the peaks and the
tourists will marvel at how beautiful it is and, then, winter will hit the
backcountry and everything will come to stop. They don’t call it
“termination dust” in Alaska for nothing. We Idahoans don’t have it quite so
bad, honestly, and there’s plenty do in the winter around here … if you like
As you might have guessed, I’m not a big fan. A friend once told me not to
mourn someone before they die, and that’s advice I repeat in my head a lot,
especially this time of year when the simple act of strapping on a pair of
wading sandals spurs pangs of seasonal sadness. Mourning summer when,
according to the calendar, it’s still summer.
But not for long, damn it.
Soon, perish the thought, I’ll have to wear socks. And when I fish—and I
will, almost certainly—I’ll have to don waders and wading boots and a wading
belt and fleece and gloves and knit hat. It’s a lot of work for a guy who
spends his summers barefoot wearing cargo shorts filled with tippet,
nippers, Gink and a small box of dry flies.
I strapped the second sandal on and stood up from the bumper of the rig.
Phoebe stretched and yawned—that stretch and yawn that comes with that
anticipatory whine—and looked at me as if asking, “Hey, bud. Can we get a
move-on here? Time’s a wastin’.”
I grinned, fluffed the fur on her neck, and, just to piss her off, turned
her left ear inside out (she hates that). She shook her head violently to
adjust her floppy ears and fell in behind me as we started up the trail.
It was late afternoon, but already the sun had dipped below the western
ridge along the stream, leaving much of the creek shaded and making it tough
to see my fly, even a high-floating ‘hopper with a big, yellow foam “Here I
am!” tag tied to the top. I caught a couple of respectable brookies,
beautifully adorned in their pre-spawn regalia, but it was almost as if
they, too, knew these blue-bird days were numbered. Phoebe watched
patiently, pleased with each healthy char that came to hand, as always.
After a couple of hours, we found the well-worn path again and wandered on
back to the trailhead. She caught a glimpse of the truck in the distance and
pranced ahead, again admonishing my listless pace with over-the-shoulder
glances. “Are you coming?” she seemed to ask. “What’s taking you so long?”
I didn’t speed up. She could wait. I was mourning the last moments of my
Soon, I’d have to wear socks.
Chris Hunt is the national digital director for Trout Media. He lives and
works in Idaho Falls.
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latest freshwater fishing tips, visit www.tu.org
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