Standing next to a stream in my waders with a fully rigged fly rod while not fishing is an absolute test of patience for me. I arrived a few minutes early and John texted that he was going to be a few minutes late. It had been a long time since we’d caught up and an even longer time since we’d spent time on the stream together. I didn’t want to be that impatient jackass who arranged to fish with an old friend and then abandoned him as soon as I got to the water. 

A beautiful fall evening.

I decided scouting the water was helpful, for both of us. My ‘expert’ observations would be helpful to getting us on fish faster, or maybe I was just rationalizing getting closer to the stream. If I just happened to start fishing that wouldn’t be the end of the world, right?

Thankfully before I was too close to the water and the edge of my self-control, John’s truck pulled into the gravel pull off. 

“Waiting long, Scotty?” His cheerful, central Pennsylvania accent always makes me smile.

“Not at all, I was just checking to see if there were any risers. Good to see ya, bud.”

“Well, don’t wait for me. I’ll be there in a minute.”

Around twenty years ago, John and I spent six weeks freezing our butts off over one of the coldest winters I can remember. It only took one time of leaving your waders in the truck overnight to learn never to do that again. When waders stand up by themselves, they won’t be close to comfortable to wear until nearly the end of the day.

One February morning, a wrong step put me upside down in Bald Eagle Creek. During the tumble, my head and right shoulder hit a fallen tree and then the bottom of the stream, as my feet flailed in the air. Stunned and freezing, I struggled to regain my wits. John’s quick thinking and unquenchable optimism helped me avoid any lasting injuries. By the time we made it back to the car after a decent hike, I was laughing at his jokes about how ridiculous I looked, completely submerged, head over heels in the creek. Nothing beats a friend who simultaneously helps you up while making fun of you. Taking things too seriously only results in serious things. 

“Did you see that riser?” Somehow John navigated down the rocky slope while picking up the location of the first surface feeding fish.  

“Sure did.” I fibbed, hoping to find the location before he was beside me. 

“Caddis?”

“You gonna tie one on?”

“Yeah, he’s asking for it.” John deadpanned.

Lighter tan caddis flies intermittently emerge around us. Seemingly offbeat, rising fish caught me off guard, even as I intently glared at the water surface. John stared down into his hands, just inches from his nose, trying to thread the tippet through the hook eye in the diminishing daylight. 

“Sucks getting old.” I could not resist the opportunity to poke a little fun.

John chuckled, “I may have to go get my readers out of the truck.”  

“You’ve got them in the truck?” I bit on his retort.

Another chuckle. “Nope. It’s only a matter of time though.”

“You’ll need those ones that snap together.”

“Ha. Or the flip down ones, classic.”

He stripped the fly line out of the reel and turned his shoulders. With a compact movement of his arm, the fluorescent green fly line flashes in the twilight, like the path of a sparkler. My gaze followed the fly line but lost track of the leader and fly, until the light caddis fly descended on the water. Seconds later, the trajectory passed over the center of the concentric circles instigated by his targeted, hungry trout. 

John playing Whack-A-Mole

Every drift of every dry fly I witness has this moment, when hope is nearly at its summit. Either a fish rises or questions rise within you, wondering what went wrong. The suspense of joy or doubt.

With a confirming splash, the fish struck the fly. He lifted the line and set the hook. “Woohoo!” The words scarcely left my mouth before he simultaneously dropped his head and fly rod in the lost fish bow. 

“You fooled ‘em.” I do my best to console him, by recognizing a minor victory. 

“As my son would say, ‘That’s a skill issue, Dad.’” 

A smile warmed my face. “Wonder where he heard that one.”

“You reap what you sow.”

John spent the next several minutes engaged in the fly fishing version of Whack-A-Mole, hooking and losing several fish. 

“How much fun is this?” He turned his head toward me with a grin.

I nodded at his sentiment, unsure if he was frustrated or sincere. “Great action so late in the year.”  

“It’s late October and we’re fishing caddis to rising fish in 70 degree weather. It doesn’t get better than this.” 

“Indeed.”

The October Caddis

A burnt orange October caddis brushed my nose and landed on a tree branch in front of me. Caddis in late October and the company of a good friend. It doesn’t get better than this. 

Keep Mending…

One Reply to “October Caddis”

  1. What a lighthearted post!
    Good friends like John are a blessing! I’d like to meet him one day!
    I am so glad you had a fun outing! Refreshing!

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