Articles & Photos by: Brian Williams
Posted by: Vicky Thomas
The days are growing shorter and dusk now brings a hint of cooler air each evening. Its late summer on the Smith and a good time to experience a final showy display of color before the wildflowers return to dormancy and the forest is speckled with falls parade. It's also a good time to get out on the river and enjoy some afternoon wading and fly-fishing, hoping for a possible "showy" display of color from the local trout population.
At this time of year the bright yellows petals of the Wingstem (Verbesina alternifolia) are standouts along the banks of the Smith.
The deep purples of the Closed Gentian (Gentianaceae Gentiana andrewsii) ....
.....compete for attention with the brilliant reds of the Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
Sunday morning arrived warm with still summertime temps, perfect for cooling off in the river. The cool water evaporating into blankets of mist keeps you comfortable, even during the hottest part of the day. I headed out to the special regulation trout section around noon, even though I knew the trout probably would not be hitting till latter in the day, I enjoy just walking up the river and spotting trout as they slink back into the shadows or dart under a rock.
A smaller brown "camoflauged" against a backdrop of DIDYMO algae.
Heading quietly upstream I began to make a few cast and soon encountered perhaps the smallest brown trout I had ever caught on a fly rod. It had to be from the wild population on the Smith because it was even smaller than most of the ones we released from the Trout in the Classroom Program during June. He took a # 18 bead head nymph.
A few more small browns fell to my nymph and I convinced them to hang around just long enough for a few quick photos before I released them, perhaps a little wiser.
Continuing my trek upstream, my eyes were drawn to a vibrant contrast of the black and yellow hanging out in the greens and orange of a stand of Jewelweed (Balsaminaceae Impatiens capensis). A silky trap, beautifully crafted by a writing spider (Argiope aurantia) was attracting its share of the afternoon hatch.
As evening approached, the larger trout were coming out to feed and it wasn't long before I had hooked up with several more "Smith River beauties."
Each one was a little larger than the previous.