Imagine if you will the year’s first ripe watermelon. You’ve been getting up each morning, munching some world traveling supermarket fruit with your eggs and coffee, and stepping out the front door to face the day, more or less satisfied with your circumstances. Then one bright afternoon you spot a sun-weathered old man selling fruit from the back of his rusty pick-up and you pull over. He offers you a thick, center-cut slice, straight from the icebox. A moment earlier, you were on your way home from work, planning on roasting another batch of root vegetables. Now you’re standing in the sun, crushing the cool red flesh in your mouth. The taste of summer is running from the corners of your smile and you feel like a better person, living in a better world. You hadn’t missed it exactly, but suddenly you can’t imagine living without the magical stuff.
Well we’ve been doing just fine slinging and swinging tungsten and animal hide, or lobbing unwieldy nymph rigs toward likely locations of suspected fish. Then one bright afternoon I round a bend in the river, spot noses prodding the sky and drop instinctively into a crouch. I let my eyes go soft on the surface and see another and another – sipping, slurping, teasing. Just a moment ago I was planning to huck a couple of bead-heads upstream and watch a little orange float for signs of life. Now I’m hiding behind a rock, giggling to myself, casting a weightless puff of feathers to the spot I last saw a particular pair of glistening shoulders. They reappear at the perfect time and place, and I am run through by a bolt of adrenaline and joy. I hadn’t missed it exactly, but hot damn is it good to be sight fishing again.
Fresh watermelon is still some months from the Northern Rockies, but after a long hiatus, trout are rising again to sustained and bountiful mayfly hatches. This isn’t the errant December take, or some halfhearted February midge cloud. I’m talking about honest-to-God surface action. You can keep the fruit.