Much as I enjoy summer, put me down as one who most looks forward to fall.
Much like the marigolds in our garden, I tend to wilt once the temperature climbs above 80 and the rains don’t come. I am ready for the longer nights and cooler days, the brisk mornings and vibrant blue skies of September and October.
Just as the town appears to be breathing a sigh of relief that the main summer rush is over, so too is the river reverting to something approaching normality, in terms of the volume of both flows and patronage.
For anglers, it is a time to reclaim a foothold along the shore bank as the on-river traffic diminishes. While lower flows create fewer opportunities for adrenalin seekers, the opposite applies when it comes to piscatorial pursuits.
Swollen, bank-to-bank runs now become playgrounds of rock pools, feed lanes and gentle back eddies where fish, sensing too the closing of the seasonal window, feed on what bounty comes their way. Grasshoppers, plump with the season and heavy with the torpor of cooler nights, become easy prey, worth their weight in gold and winter calories to a hungry trout.
Mayflies and caddis flies still persist, imitated by casting smaller fly patterns that demand close attention once on the water, the subtle, sipping takes of the fish at times requiring almost a sixth sense to detect on the part of the angler.
The sun, keeping ever lower to the horizon, plays tricks also, creating glare that can hide the location of a fish or flashes of light off the water that mimic their presence.
But mostly with fall I enjoy the periods of introspection that inevitably accompany being on a body of water as the curtain falls on yet another summer. It is the time of year to take a deep breath and at the same time take stock, to acknowledge the slip of time’s sands and be grateful for the blessings we have to count.
Of all the seasons, summer, like youth, is the one that seems to slip by the easiest. One day, it is early June and between then and late August lies the promise of an endless number of lazy, sun-drenched days, warm, starlit nights, river trips and camping trips and family memories, and suddenly kids are back at school and you can sometimes find a parking space downtown, and you’re sleeping with windows open but covers on, and gradually, night by night, the windows close.
Like no other environment, high country seasons speak to the ephemeral nature of life and of the relentless, indifferent passage of time. Fall is the season of urgency, of getting done what needs be done, before the opportunity is lost to winter’s onset.
Nature senses this. The insects laying the seeds of the next generation, the fish adding the calories to do the same and ride out winter’s grip, and the angler, casting a few more times a dry fly upon the water, watching on as it drifts toward an uncertain future.
Hayden Mellsop is a Realtor with Pinon Real Estate Group and a former fishing guide.