“Small brooks make great rivers” (French Proverbs)
Everything in the universe has a beginning and end. From a Nova, to Supernova to a Black Hole abyss, there is a transition. Except for the Almighty, if one chooses to believe; this is the one eternal spirit of the Alpha and Omega who’s being will last forever. But everything in nature that thrives in the beautiful feral state has its time-so it is with trout and salmon in a stream. They all has their growth, repopulation and dormancy. Without each state of being, the ability for us mortals to “cognito ergo sum”; as Descartes envisioned man, would waste all this majesty and splendor as it would thus be rendered meaningless. So it is with a mesmerizingly beautiful, small wild trout stream. These hallowed babbling brooks are nature’s ultimate soothing tonics that bring us in tune with the life, death and a sleep that nurtures a new beginning.
Most relished pastimes, the things we worship like sports are based upon rituals. In the case of fly fishing for trout the rituals are many. The spring mayfly hatches, the streamer bite, nymphing high swollen waters, terrestrials of summer and the list goes on. None more powerful a ritual than the trout season opener, and sadly as its complete evolution occurs, a closing of it and the last day of trout season. A season that observes the rite of nature and allows for it to be replenished with wild things procreating, surviving winter’s harsh elements and to have a rebirth again for those that survive until the spring.
As was my ritual with opening day on those tiny trout streams of my youth in Upstate New York, I celebrate that right of passage with the closing September 30th day with my newfound Huron National Forest waters of my adopted state. It was a glorious and rare storybook closing. A cloudless day in Michigan is rare, with bright blue sky and a glowingly warm 70F that you relish every ounce of, knowing that a harsh and long winter is yet to come. Weeks go by without seeing the sun in winter. Those days can drain you and make you Vitamin D depressed and deprived. Thoughts of those late summer and early fall days will be soothing memories as you watch the snow pile up.
In the warmth of the late September afternoon, as it goes in spring, everything comes alive. The bwo olives and caddis hatch, the hoppers and crickets dance in the grasses and the wild trout respond to my beetles, bwo emergers and caddis egg laying patterns.
After catching wild brooks and browns in the tiny ice-cold creek, I ventured down to its mouth where it came into the massive sized river in comparison. This tailwater is open year-round due to its salmon and steelhead runs. But its trout respond to the fly year-round as prolific hatches of late winter midges and crustaceans keep the trout well fed. A caddis hatch was commencing and with my Carl Richards inspired caddis teardrop emergers, the ones he taught me to experiment and tie when we fished the river together years ago before his passing , yielded several gorgeous rainbows that love the faster free-flowing waters
At the end of the day, I was blessed and complete. I experienced the wonderful world of trout in one afternoon. And as I walked several hundred yards down the tiny brook into the larger river it emptied into, I left the little wild gems and said goodbye until hopefully next season- if God willing. The beauty of saying goodbye is as exciting as saying hello in the new season to come. An opening and closing ritualistic celebration and rite of passage that only trout and Atlantic salmon fishing can bestow upon us troutbums- us insatiable and crazed creatures that just can’t get enough. All this in knowing full well that our loss of time on the water due to trout season closures will be a much needed respite to those creatures that need to spawn so they can give us more of their joy.
I am worried to death about what the future holds for wild trout and salmon. The massive declines have already come in places where you would think there would never be such a thing; like Montana and their amazing brown trout dynasty, the Pacific Rim steelhead and salmon declines and decimation- the list is endless! As the wild trout are pulverized to death by a constant and relentless bombardment of anglers, regardless of flies-only, catch-and-release, this pressure still effects them. With NYSDEC opening up the New York state trout season to year-round, regardless of releasing them, this still exposes’ wild spawning trout to being fished over. We all know what ugly things can happen- even from nice, thoughtful people to that scenario. Gigging and accidental hooking with lures, “fly snagging”, stepping over freshly-laid gravel redds with eggs etc.- the ugly list goes on!
Everything wild in nature needs a rest. Especially cold water needy trout and salmon trying to survive and evolve in an ever increasing globally warming and hostile climactic world.