Monday, November 6, 2017

Depression and Blue-Winged Olives

Depression and Blue-Winged Olives

"In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer." Albert Camus



They have a name for it now…. Seasonal Affective Disorder or S.A.D.

Caused by a lack of light and cold temperatures, it infected me one dark October morning as the trout season was coming to a close. The day before was sunny and seasonal, and the colors of fall were in full glory; the trees on the hills painting the sky with a rich palette of vibrant reds, yellows, greens, and oranges. This day I awoke to fog, rain, cold, and a monochrome melancholy. Everything was gray, especially my mood, as I pulled back the covers and slept in. I had vowed to fish out every day of the season as it waned, but sometimes psychology gets in the way. I finally pulled myself together and got out of bed to face the day, shivering as I fumbled with the coffee maker. Cold gray weather makes me want to cover myself in sweaters and enter into an introspective gloom of reflection. I putzed and delayed the fishing while curled into a ball eating soup and reading Joyce since I had misplaced my Camus. Thus went the morning and early afternoon.


After warming up enough to begin to crawl out of my moodiness and staring outside at the dripping wet cold that was trying to get at me through the window, I knew I had to get active. Before the opportunity left me, I grabbed my fly rod and bag and hopped into the car for the five-minute drive to the trout stream. That’s right… five minutes. This depression was so foul it prevented a journey I could complete on a tricycle. The fishing and the creek were right there, all I had to do was stop listening to dark Russian music long enough to hear the murmur and trickle of moving water.


The drizzle was penetrating my gear and soaking my hat even as I suited up at the stream. I considered going home and going back to bed, or driving to the local stop and rob for a large bottle of wine to drown my mood even further. I decided my whine deserved no wine until the trout were caught and my feet were tired from stumbling over rocks. Hard work and exercise would chase the blues away! Sometimes we can trick ourselves with delusions, and sometimes reality can penetrate our souls like the fog that surrounded me. But what was that? The trout were rising! They were eating something off the surface of the water; something so invisible in the near opaque mists and drizzle that I knew instinctively what was going on. I remembered the old adage: The worse the weather, the better the olive hatch. The Blue-winged olive is a small mayfly that matches the gloom in shades of olives and dun gray blues. Its idea of a good time to hatch usually is accompanied by clouds, snowflakes and the London weather of Dickens I was in now. It probably is camouflage to prevent the little winged creatures from being eaten in mass by birds, for even a sharp sighted swallow couldn’t see through this mess.


The Blue-winged olive is so picky about the weather, that a single ray of sunshine can shut down a hatch, and a lone dark cloud passing over can trigger an emergence. The lower the barometer, the happier they are. I wondered if Blue-winged olives read Camus or listened to Pink Floyd naked in a dark room. Those thoughts still stuck halfway in the morning’s depression ended as I tied on a little CDC winged pattern in a size 18 and went to work. This creek is small, and has few large fish. A foot long brown trout is a treasure here. Well… they were lined up in channels and ate my imitation with gusto. I tried to make progress up the stream, but I got slowed down by catching fish! Good problems to have. I landed a beauty of a brown wearing his fall-colored wardrobe as bright as the day before had been, and a smile came over my face. Nature is funny sometimes, and perhaps the best place to look for a cure for anything is close to the source of the cause. The very weather that shrouded my happiness in wet-blankets provided the medicine in the form of a tiny mayfly bonbon. Even though thunder began to rumble over the Coulee hills, signaling a retreat from the stream, it seemed to me it was brighter… perhaps inside me rather than outside.


Blue winged olives must possess nature’s degree in psychiatry, for they can sure chase their own colors right out of the soul of a fly-angler.

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