|Sunset on the South Branch of the Potomac.|
I've always said fly fishing is a lot about the wallpaper. Sometimes, you just have to stop and look around to really appreciate the places the craft will take you.
As sun set over the South Branch of the Potomac on a sultry night in West Virginia recently, I did just that. I reeled up my line, stuck my little black woolly bugger in the hook keeper and took it all in.
With the waning light, I could make out the occasional firefly as it danced among the forest undergrowth, and the trees were alive with the constant buzz of locusts going about their nightly duties. The sun, well below the rise to the west now, gave off an ethereal light, a reminder of the day just past, and especially of the last hour casting flies to spunky sunfish, rock bass and some very respectable smallies.
|A South Branch rock bass.|
I remained a few more minutes, but I didn't cast–the river's denizens had given me more than enough this night. I just ... lingered, enjoying the feeling of the heavy, warm air, and the sound of water running off the spine of Appalachia on its way to the Chesapeake. There's history here, and I loved the thought of one of our nation's founding fathers standing in this river, perhaps contemplating a box of flies in the failing light, trying to determine what might work for that last cast of the day.
Eventually, I started my walk back to the car. I'm always amazed at how far I walk when I fish, really without realizing it. I stepped over white-tail deer tracks in the riverside gravel and watched as swallows and bats dove from the last light of the last hour of the day in search of the insects that teemed along this storied river. The fireflies, more numerous now, guided me back to the little trail out of the woods and to the car, where I felt, more than anything, a sense of regret. But the sun must set. The day must end.
The fishing must cease, because without an ending here, there's not a beginning somewhere else.
We'll meet again, the South Branch and I. And I can't wait.