The newly repaired Sage fly rod shined like burnished bronze in the bright sunlight at Rocky Ford Creek.
You may recall that last month I walked on its tip section and crunched the graphite flat after, like a dufus, I lay the rod on the ground while photographing two Canada geese with their goslings.
I hardly pondered a single non-angler's thought from the time it arrived by post until my fishing buddies and I headed north early last week.
Yes, I broke open the long package with greedy hands and fixed the sections together.
And, yes, I noticed the new section's color differed slightly from the old. I didn't care. Sage had forgiven the dufus for, well, a $50 fee for S&H.
So, finally, at 9:42 a.m. I cut the ignition at a Rocky Ford parking spot. Nora hot-footed it around the gravel as I lifted the back of the rig.
I loaded the nine-foot, five-weight rod with five-weight floating line and a spanking-new 10-foot, 5X (five-pound test) tapered leader.
I tied on a thumbnail-sized (No. 16 hook) pinkish imitation shrimp called a "scud."
With wading prohibited at the fly-fishing only stream, I eschewed the waders. I slipped into the vest laden with gear and slung a camera on my left shoulder.
Darlene looked up from her book and said "Good luck" as Nora and I headed across the road toward the water.
"Thanks," I said, although, being a highly skilled angler, I didn't rely on luck. Averse to offending the lady, however, I locked my lips.
Nora's flashing legs led the way to a bend in the stream, my favorite RFC spot. In no hurry, I ogled a clutch of pelicans near a rock upstream and counted six anglers wide-spaced on the bank, with two on the far side.
Alas, one on the far side tossed flies at my spot. With less than 20 yards from bank-to-bank, angler's etiquette suggested not stopping there. As we passed, one man across the way hooked, netted and released an 18-inch trout.
Inspiration spurred me on, and we met a robust man in shorts. He ignored Nora and when I spoke, his response bordered on the brusque.
Moving on, we turned at a path through the cattail and tule and sneaked to the water's edge. A pelican sailed serenely along, 20 feet away. A muskrat swam before its spreading wake directly toward me and disappeared in a swirl of spray.
Holding the shimmering rod high, to keep the back-cast above the cattails, I angled a toss upstream.
A riffling breeze lofted the line, and it settled softly on the current. It lingered, forming a growing curl. I mended it straight by flipping line back upstream with the bronze rod tip. We experts want a scud to sink and drift naturally.
To fool a fish.
While Nora rested in scant cattail shade, my eyes squinted after the line's telltale pause or movement upstream that suggested a trout's tug.
Or a snag.
Nothing. I worked the water there until my elbow whimpered.
We moved on downstream to a man with a yellow dog and a woman who sat in a lawn chair, a book in her lap. The man had hooked a fish on a scud but lost it.
We then fished our way to the bridge. En route I tried two other fly patterns without a single bite.
Near the bridge, I cast a pheasant-tail nymph upstream.
The man and his yellow dog arrived. They fished between me and the bridge.
Neither of us had a bite, but a white pelican flew downstream toward us, and I took photos.
Finally, my watch said 3:10 p.m. I had tossed way too many flies without a single tug, except for snags.
I reeled in the line, hooked the fly on the rod handle and gathered Nora from her shady spot.
We walked the half mile back to the car.
"Where's the fish?" Darlene said.
"It's catch-and-release," I grumbled.
"Oh, no luck," she said.
"Well, if you call fishing for half a day with a shiny new half-a-pole ‘No Luck,'" I said and smiled. "I'll buy dinner."
We headed for Moses Lake.
Contact Don Davis at email@example.com. More of Don's photos can be found online at www.tripper.smugmug.com.
If You Go
Drive to Moses Lake and take Highway 17 north toward Ephrata and Soap Lake. Take the right turn toward Soap Lake and continue for 4.8 miles to the Trout Lodge right turn and two graveled miles to the hatchery.
Rocky Ford Creek regulations include: fly fishing only; catch-and-release; single barbless hook, no lead allowed on the line; no wading; and it's open all year.
For more information Google Trout Lodge Hatchery, Rocky Ford Creek.