I made the long drive to a very famous stretch of a very famous river. You might call it a pilgrimage. Following my handy guidebook, I pulled off the road, suited up, and waded over to a nice looking run. It was beautiful water with woody cover along the far bank, as good a place to start as any. Nothing rising, no bugs on the water. I tied an on attractor dry to see if I could pound anything up.
The first canoe appeared from the upper bend as I completed my knot, and headed straight for me. Two guys. Shirts off. Sunburned. Drinking beer.
“Hey, how’s the fishin’, buddy?”
“Great. Just great.”
They paddled through the deepest part of the run, and swept by so close I could have poked them with my fly rod.
Breathe deep. You have to learn patience to be a fly fisherman. Just rest the run for ten minutes.
The second canoe came by in five. And then the third and the fourth. By 1:00, 27 canoes had passed. I packed it in and drove to town to get some lunch, discouraged and frustrated. Two guys, obviously fishermen, were enjoying burgers, fries and a cold beer at the next table.
“You guys catch all the trout in the river this morning?”
“We got a few nice ones. How about you?”
“Not a damned thing. How do you cope with all those damned canoes?”
“You’re not from around here, are you?”
“No, I’m from Toronto. I’ve never seen anything like this.”
“We call it the canoe hatch. This river gets 500 a day.”
“How does anybody catch any trout?”
“You got to be strategic.”
They thought it was pretty funny.
“Ok, here’s what you do. After lunch, go back to wherever you’re staying and have a good nap. Noon to four is siesta time around here. The last canoes launch at about four. That’s when you head upstream. By about 4:30, you’ll want to be anywhere up in here, or you can go over here to the other branch.”
He pointed on a little map.
“You don’t want to wait too late or all the best water will be taken. The canoes will all be downstream by then and and you’ll get some peace and quiet. Tomorrow morning, you be up before dawn and go down here to the lower stretches.”
He showed me a long stretch on the map.
“In here and in here.”
You’ll have a few hours before the first canoes get that far downstream. As soon as the first one passes you, it’s time for lunch.
I used to like canoes.