The stream calls as it winds through the valley below Camp Grouse. Sometimes it’s a whisper, others it’s a roar, but most often the sound is a constant chortle that never ends. Alders line much of its banks, in other places tall softwoods blot out the sky. Where it winds through old pastures there are glimpses of farm country turning back to forest. Yes, it is grouse country.
The water tugs at ankles protected by Lacrosse boots. Pesky deerflies dart in around the edges of a tired hat. Mosquitoes whine while downstream a kingfisher rattles a raspy tune. The stream sings softly as it riffles to the west.
A trout dimples the surface for a third time.
Dobson flies bounce across the surface. A large stonefly struggles to break free of the water’s grasp, finally swimming amazingly well to the bank where it climbs a blade of grass to freedom. Pale green caddis struggle to stay aloft then kiss the water to lay their eggs.
The trout makes a splash.
He is inches ahead of a washed in log whose stubbed branches provide shelter. Alders lean low directly over it from the left bank. Closer, head-high alders reach of from the right. The bony stream bottom is impossible to walk quietly on, so waiting and plotting are in order.
A cast cocked to the right weaves between the reaching branches, straightens out, and gently sets the caddis imitation three feet upstream from the log. It drifts back atop the inky current.
The surface dimples and reflexes snap the rod aft. The trout dives free of the hook. It’s same rush as walking in on a pointing dog when wary old grouse flushes wild. Usually that is no fault of the dog or the gunner, but this might have been a slow set. But it’s just nice to know the quarry was there.