We paddled a black river in steely woods under a grey sky, where the only liquid water was moving water. Any that paused for a moment on our rod guides, gloves, and waders lost its last bit of entropy immediately and we crackled like broken light bulbs with each movement.
I’ve heard it called “cast and blast,” but it doesn’t really fit here. The river is too small for swinging flies, so we were rolling indicators. Hardly casting. Our deer rifle’s technology was obsolete in the 1860s and we spent most of the day floating through private property, so there wasn’t much chance of any blasting.
The only action we were to have was one brief hookup to a wide, black-backed steelhead right away in the morning and later, on a landlocked sliver of state forest, a brief glimpse of the backside of a deer as he deposited some impressive tracks in the snow. There were the several bonus brown trout — a surprise of gold from that leaden water, released quickly as if they, too, would freeze solid in a moment.
We left a handful of flies in underwater logjams and a single .54 caliber roundball in a muddy bank and made the takeout just before it was too dark to see it.