Beasts of the Dark Waters
Feb. 19th, 2011
It was as if I was entering the world of mythical adventure. Though I was in the open arena of earth the wind blew across the tree top mountains and conveyed a haunting sound. It was the sound as heard when the wind blows through air passages in a winding tunnel. The air was stale, void of smell, and cold, flesh stinging at times. Crusted snow laid upon the forest ground and mountainous hillside. I dressed boldly to fear off the elements. As if with my own mythical weapon, a Hardy 7’ Demon, we crossed the ice covered lane and entered the Realm of the Black Moshannon.
The water flows along over fallen logs, rocks and pebbled shallows, like any small creek known to man, but it runs dark. Yes dark, like Godiva liqueur, with the streambed only visible in the very shallows. Laurel, from the bank sides, branch outward with thick limbs and leaves waiting to take a hold of any air born object that draws near. Drooping pine boughs create cover for any holdover aquatic life. Sun rays bleed through the hovering gray clouds lighting my presence as if in a cavern lit by flickering torches. All the while snow flakes fall softly like white ash from the aftermath of an active volcano.
I enter the dark water cautiously as my cleated boots grip the uneven stony bottom. I look downstream and the heavy canopy encloses the creek like an underground cistern guarded by living plant walls. I attach a brown hare’s ear to my 6x tippet below an indicator. I roll cast and the line falls, unrolling softly, upon the slow flow of water. Each cast is deliberately further out towards the opposite bank. My fourth drift and my indicator dips swiftly and I raise my weapon, the tip section bows downward. I feel the pull of the creature below and the rod shaft flexes into the mid section with force, I must let tensioned line slip through my finger tips. The creature now swims towards the cover near the opposite bank. Its agility is minimized by the coldness of the water from the past few months, none-the-less, it fights with rebelling force. My three weight Demon is wicked in its own strength and calms the beast. I watch as the creature rises, just subsurface, and I see his radiant colorful sides. A fourteen inch, heavy body, brook trout comes to my net. His burnt orange underside indicates he’s been lurking this cistern for some time now. The worm like upper body pattern is of olive and grays to camouflage him from flying prey. The creature’s sides displays vibrant blue halos and spots of orange and yellow upon his bluish-olive skin. A sharp creamy white streak underlines his bright orange lower fins. I attempt to take a picture of this fine specimen but the battery, as if cursed by the elements, fail to operate the camera. I unattached the hook and release the beautiful creature back into his dark waters.
I continue, slowly fishing my way down creek in water no higher than my knees. Casting out and drifting my offering in slower runs and pocket waters. Guiding it underneath low overhangs and holding it back some in choppy water. My indicator stops its drift midstream and I lift the Demon and hook another water creature. A small brown fights its way to my waiting net. Further down I catch another brown about the same length.
An hour, maybe two, has passed and I decide to go back to the vehicle to quench my thirst. The hot cinnamon liqueur of Goldschlager warms my innards as I sip from the small flask. I lick my lips in final appreciation.
Back in the dark water I change patterns often giving my earlier presence a new look. A wintry breeze awakens my senses with the inhaling of each breath. The sharpness of the sun’s rays is now a dim glow upon the valley. Snow flakes appear than disappear like a midge hatch upon fertile cold water. I take more time to observe my surroundings through the open forest. I relax a bit more as I survey the water before me. I remove the indicator and now depend on my knowledge and understanding of line control and current flow. I come upon a section I am sure there to be a creature below so I concentrate on my offering presentation. Near the end of the drift, as it begins to enter more shallow water, my line gently veers away from the intended direction of flow. I quickly raise my weapon and instantly the rod tip flexes downward. My wrist locks and my hand grips the cork handle tightly. A surge away from my position and deeper bending of the rod shaft leaves me no choice but to give line to the beast beneath. Instantly I know I have come in conflict with the keeper of this corridor. He has the energy, even on this frigid day, to flex his body and the might to put on a good duel. Even if he escapes during our melee I can still be thankful just to have the opportunity to due battle. Once he realizes I have the upper hand he tries to release himself of my hold. I watch as his long body and wide girth comes to my net reluctantly. As he lies in my hand I can feel, let alone, see his healthiness. Unlike the beautiful brook I caught earlier this lighter shade of brown trout gives a more boldness appeal than beauty. His kype jaw is obvious at first glance. His yellowish body shimmers in the dim light as sharp red spots dot his skin below the dark brownish spots upon his upper body. I let the seventeen inch brown slip through my loose grip and watch him return into the darkness to his lair.
I stand in the cistern of water and hold my head high in great achievement. I feel I have succeeded in battling the two biggest creatures that roam this section of water. Even though the fights weren’t as aggressive as would be in warmer conditions I feel the conflicts were evenly matched with the use of my 3 weight Demon Rod. I decide to return home earlier than planned as I am well satisfied with my encounters of the day.
On the way home I reward myself with a fine cigar of unknown origin.