At the sound of the tone...

Russell
Russell Wangersky
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Today, I think I'll be fishing. Not a bad forecast, really, 20 degrees with showers, and there was enough heavy rain last week to start pulling the sea trout in, if you know where to go.

It's a funny calculation, the sea trout incantation, one that boasts a touch of alchemy and old wives' tales: the rain certainly is the main attraction, but full moons and high tides seem to help in spirit, even if not in fact.

We've had all three this past week, all shouldered together.

So, the time should be right.

These are barrel fish, thick, fat fish that shouldn't be there, fish that are too big for the pools and holes they inhabit. They know it, too; hungry, they slash their way up through the water in eager runs, liking the tufted brown flies, fat muddlers and Adams, best of all.

True sea trout: solid and small-headed and heavy.

You don't realize that it's suddenly time to go, until you do.

It was the daisies that finally caught my attention this past weekend - sheer drifts of yellow-centred white petals, filling the roadside ditch from edge to edge.

I'd already passed by a whole performance of other flowers - yellow and orange indian paintbrushes, the western dock already setting its flat oatmeal-like seeds, occasional rafts of shrub roses bursting out in ragged scatter. The twin ditch interlopers, lupin and foxglove, fighting for long-stalked precedence as they each climb the gravelled slope of the ditch, mountaineer-like and angled against their roots.

But it wasn't until the daisies - and then, staring out past a beaver dam at a water-meadow tinged purple with a complete acre of blue flag iris - that I realized how fully into summer we really are.

It came so suddenly that it almost surprised me, this quick flash into the guts of summer, that time when our wildflowers can compete with the tundra or Rocky Mountain meadows.

Fireweed and rhodera exploding with pinks, all the small bogflowers throwing up what look like endless experimentation in form and colour and floral function.

It hasn't been the warmest of summers - only one week on the east coast thick with heat - and the almost constant grey of June was enough to sap any resolve.

This past weekend, rivers were running high all over the Avalon, the big seeps of the boglands draining off at least two days of heavy rain, the kind of mid-summer flow that brings the trout in and up past many of the river obstacles, in from the bay where they've been spooling and waiting for the smell of the freshet to capture their homing attention.

I've had a lot of luck on one river in particular, always around now and always after heavy rain.

I'll know by now

So, by the time you read this, I'll be bug-eaten and weary, with sticks and spruce needles in my boots and the kind of grubby sweatedness that only a day hiking a river and its banks can bring.

It's been too cold for the dragonflies, so it will be the back end of blackfly season, and some of them will invariably eat well.

But sitting at my desk, I can already see the river, its first falls and the place where a big fallen spruce has pulled the river into a lovely, slow-turning pool, and I already know that one or two sweeps with a grey Adams fly will tell me whether I've gotten my alchemy right or not.

It doesn't even matter if there's a strike on the hook - if there's so much as a rise and the fish turns silverside, I'll know by that particular sharp light that the sea trout are back again.

If they don't, eventually I'll find myself on the bouldered shoulders of the river, sitting and wondering when they'll come through, passing upstream, and whether by then, there will be a new magician.

Four times in 10 years, I've found the day.

By this time tomorrow, I'll know if I've found it again.

Looking for me?

At the sound of the tone ...

Russell Wangersky is the editorial page editor of The Telegram. He can be reached by email at rwanger@thetelegram.com, but he's unlikely to be answering any emails today.

 

Organizations: The Telegram

Geographic location: Rocky Mountain

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