Lost: One Fly Box
Did you ever wonder who dropped whatever it was that you just picked up. . .Doc Knoll writes about finding a flyfishing fly box.
Some time ago I decided that I had completed enough work for the day. I slipped on my waders and took a short walk to the Yellowstone River. The day was pleasant and since there was not a whisper of a breeze, I knew I was most likely to get into an insect hatch. Nearing the river I spotted two kingbirds and a small group of swallows feverishly dipping and soaring over the water. My heart quickly skipped a beat with anticipation.
A Mayfly hatch was definitely in progress. I stepped into the water and chose a target. I cast and within seconds the surface erupted from a rainbow making a valiant effort to free itself from my artificial presentation.
I maintained a steady and slow retrieve being careful not to overplay the fish. Several minutes later I was kneeling in the shallows admiring a prime example of a Montana Yellowstone River trout. Then, as I released the fish that's when I saw it.
It was a small gray foam fly box floating slowly against the grassy bank. I moved closer, reached into the water and took possession of someone's loss. I opened up the find. I found myself smiling. The box was crammed tight with an assorted selection of flies. I moved out of the river and seated myself in a nest of large rocks where I reopened the box to inspect the contents with slightly more scrutiny.
About half of the selection were basic elk hair patterns representing Caddis and Bullet Hoppers. One quarter were Wooly Buggers of various colors and sizes and the remaining flies were a selection of hackled flies representing the orders of Adams and Cahill. However, as I continued to look at the workmanship my mind slowly drifted to another location and to another time on the river.
I remembered watching a young boy fishing the river behind my house one summer morning. As I approached the youngster he waded out of the shallows to meet me. I guess one might call him a "considerate kid".
"Catchin' anything?"I asked as he reached a better footing.
"No. . . but I had a few rises," he quickly added. "I must be doing something wrong."
I quickly looked to his leader material and saw that it was light enough. His fly selection was a small Bullet Head hopper. "Do you ever use a Light Cahill?" I asked as I slowly reached into my vest for a flybox.
"No. I only have elk and deer hair for material," he replied as he looked a little embarassed but I sensed that he knew who I was supposed to be..
"Well, I'm Doc from Knoll's and I raise genetic hackle. Stop down at my shop and maybe I can help you out. I'll trade you even. . .some chores for feathers,"
The boy was almost surprised but quickly accepted the offer. "I see we are just at a beginning of a hatch and a few of these might help you out," I said as I offered the boy a half dozen or so #16 Cahills. "These should get you into some fish," I added as the boy pulled out his own flybox and added the gifts to his collection.
I remembered how he put the flies along the top row of the box filled with his creations of elk and deer flies. Yes, It was the same box I now held in my hand. As I returned from my past recollection, I looked back into the box and saw that my flies were no longer along the top row. Instead, a new row of his own Light Cahill representations had taken their place. Isn't it funny how traditions of flies and knowledge are passed from generation to generation?
Quietly I slipped the box into my vest pocket. I knew that I would be making a call that evening to a very thankful young man.