I've nurtured an odd theory over the years that virtually always pays off, especially in years like this one, when high water threatens not just to extend into summer, but to claim summer itself.
Fly fishing during runoff is often futile, especially on big water, one of the final destinations of the earth-stained snowmelt that mere hours earlier was frozen white against a rocky slope. But get above it–or at least some of it–and the fishing gets notably better. As I said, it's a mere theory. I can't prove it, but I'm gathering anecdotal evidence.
It was my first western brook trout effort of the year (I did manage to turn a few fish on the Rapidan in early March, but brookies in the Rockies have to wait months longer before they see a fly cast by the likes of me), and I was itching for the tug of a feisty char at the end of a supple level line. I yearned to see the tenkara rod double over into the tell-tale horseshoe, bending, but not breaking, under the weight of an Eastern brook trout reared in Western water with an attitude to match the Rockies.
Very respectable brookies fell victim to an Adams cast lightly over dark beaver ponds. In the deep holes of the creek, where it moved between still ponds, bigger fish rose to the fly and they, too, came to hand after putting a deep bend in the 12-foot rod borne of the Land of the Rising Sun but put to work on exotic char deep inside cutthroat country.
Say what you will about brookies and their diminutive size. Say what you will about their attempt to take over Western water from native trout. There's no arguing the fire that burns in their bellies, the life force that, with a little willingness on the part of a wandering angler, can prove contagious.
On the longest day of the year, I'm pleased to say I spent the twilight hours chasing brookies in high water, gazing across high country.