The wise grouseYesterday finally felt like spring. The waters have come back to perfect fishing condition, slightly stained, full to the brim, and cold. The sun made it feel like t-shirt weather. As I took the long walk into the lower Kinni I couldn’t help but feel giddy. As I brush beat my way to the river, it was apparent the birds could feel it to. Scores of returning black birds pecked gravel along the bank. Mama and Papa goose had captured the island that was their nesting site last year. This site is right in front of a deep fast run that has always been a good fishing spot. I am sure this was the same pair as last year. They had beat me to my spot once again, but it was nice to see they also had survived the long winter. I complimented them on their choice of spots and took a wide detour to keep from disturbing them any further. One honk from each of them seemed to be a thank you.

The fish too were active. A black stonefly and a small pheasant tail nymph caught fish. I broke no records in terms of numbers, but the action was consistent. More fish were caught in the runs and pools where the sun hit the water than in the locations that were blanketed in deep cool shade. I moved through these areas where the canyon walls obscured the sun quickly.

I love rock hunting!

After fishing the final pool at my upstream destination, I decided to make my way back through the woods on a trail that 20 years prior I walked in my youth on the weekends of the traditional trout openers of the past. As I blazed into the woods using my old exuberance, and my old memory for reference, I realized the trail no longer existed in the present, as it did in the clear cut vision of my memory. Fallen trees and prickly ash fields had grown in its place. As the thorns of the ash pulled at my jacket and raked my face I realized I was too far in to turn back. The line from my rod was now twisted around the branches of a fallen tree and I was stuck, tangled helplessly in a memory. Now moving cautiously so not to break my rod, my eyes caught movement in the surrounding brush. Not 20 feet from me strutted a ruffed grouse. He did not spook and fly, but stood his ground, calmly walking only a few paces from where my eye first detected his presence. From my tangled mess I could see where he had scratched out a shelter beneath a tree angled almost parallel to the ground. It was his place, and I imagined his drumming beat, a sure sign of spring would begin shortly. As I watched him while carefully untangled myself,  I could see he had crept to a small clearing close by. I followed. As I reached the clearing, it became apparent. A new trail, heading up a rise and into the old pine forest was where the grouse was pointing. This trail was a bit farther away from the river than my old trail but it was apparent that I would have clear sailing back to my down stream destination. As I walked through the pines and remembered days gone by I thought about how my own path through life had changed. Many times it is the help and advice from others that has provided the direction to a clearer path. I appreciate it.

Go fish! The rain this weekend could be the only event standing in your way.