Muddy Water
Muddy Water

The sound of rain on the roof is a sweet sound that I desperately miss during the time of year when all that can be expected from the sky is something frozen. That said, there's a time and place for everything and Wednesday is never a good day for rain. Neither is Thursday or Friday for that matter. All rain should fall on Sunday or Monday. Tuesday at the absolute latest. In that way all that water can run downhill by Saturday morning and the weekend, the blessed weekend, will find the streams well behaved and the trout in their usual spots.

The Hendrickson's have already been missed and the later hatches are getting started. There's an anxiousness that fills the mid-section as one looks for the intersection of flows and hatches and time off and sees little to be excited about. When a day free from labor hits and the water is the color of chocolate milk the rational mind says to tend to undone chores. In the grand scheme of things missing a day of fishing isn't the end of the world, but it's a Sunday afternoon and there's that bile that has accumulated and it has to be dealt with.

Standing on a high bank looking down at off-color water that is where it shouldn't be I immediately consider other options. Friday's rain should be clear from the tributaries by now and there's a good one not far off. As that thought sinks in I stumble towards the water's edge just to see what's what. Standing thigh deep not five feet from the bank I can barely make out my knees. My toes are lost in the brown soup. Being there I unlimber my fly and roll cast a streamer out into the current. Yellow, white, purple and black all spend time on my tippet without any discernible results.

"You're a braver man than I." a voice says over my shoulder, "Or a fool." I assure the speaker that it's the latter and cast again. When I look back he's gone. I spend the next hour repeating the fruitless exercise proving that I may well be that fool or, at the very least, I'm not really standing here fishing but doing something else entirely. That's probably as close to the truth as I could come.

Inertia eventually wanes and my thoughts again return to tributaries. With the long rod stowed I grab some fiberglass and wander upstream on a slender water that is running full but clear. I've not fished this lower section before and it's about as picture perfect as a tumbling freestone could be. The fish are where you'd expect them to be though they're easier to spook than catch. I make some downstream casts into fishy runs and manage a couple on but none to hand. I'm still far too quick on the strike when swinging wets missing more than I get. Perhaps it's buck fever though it could just be lack of experience.

On the drive home it's hard not to rationalize the effort of the day. There was really no reason to be out other than to be out. A walk in the woods. A few tense moments when the high flows threw a curve and slipping feet spiked my adrenaline. The tug and flash in a long run after an endless drift. A brief chat with another lost soul hoping for something that can’t be had.

It's Tuesday night and it's raining again. The storm should pass quickly and there's nothing in the forecast for the remainder of the week but warm temperatures and cloudy skies. Perhaps things will converge for a fine weekend of angling opportunities. Regardless, I'll probably be out there and I bet I'll see you too.

Steve Zakur writes at He dead drifts purple Wooley Buggers in western Connecticut.