Thursday, June 05, 2008

Waiting for Brown Drake

Photo by Kirk Keogh, first2lastlight.

In Samuel Beckett's absurdist play, Waiting for Godot, two characters spend an awful lot of time, well, waiting for Godot. Exactly who or what Godot is never quite becomes clear, but the pair forsake all else to keep on waiting. In the end, of course, Godot never shows.

A trip to fish the brown drake hatch on Silver Creek sometimes feels that way. You get on the water early, sure that tonight will be the night. You watch, and you wait. And wait.

The water is a smooth, glassy surface--not a good thing for a Silver Creek trout angler. You have come for feeding fish constantly smacking the surface. Serenity means the brown drakes are not ready to hatch yet.

At some point, you suspect it's not going to happen this evening. Night falls, and you're still waiting for brown drake.

If you're lucky, the brown drake hatch is one of fly fishing's most dramatic experiences. Thousands and thousands of these large mayflies hover over the water. Wherever there's such an abundance of life, there's sure to be predators feeding. In this case, it's brown and rainbow trout. The fish gorge during the hatch, and they actually lose some of their usual wariness.

The hatch only occurs on the lower portions of the watershed, downstream of The Nature Conservancy's preserve. The brown drake hatch only occurs for a short window of time in late May or early June, and it's somewhat unpredictable.

If you miss the hatch, though, it's still not quite like waiting for Godot. Silver Creek at this time of year is still beautiful, and it's perhaps the best time to see lots of wildlife. This past weekend, friends and I spent a lot of time waiting for brown drakes to hatch, but the rewards were many: A bull moose, a mule deer and a herd of elk, all in the same meadow. Displaying yellow-headed blackbirds and their raucous calls. Hillsides aglow with lupines and arrowleaf balsamroot. Cinammon teal and sandhill cranes and long-billed curlews. Beavers and muskrats. Blankets of stars in the clear night sky. --Matt Miller

No comments: