He'd hooked several nice fish there but lost one he guessed was a few pounds, trying to steer it from the logjam above the hole before it snapped his line on a submerged log.  He tried to disguise his disgust at the loss.
He shook it off though and we both went upstream for what turned out to be a fabulous Hex hatch that evening.  A humid, cloudy day had turned grossly muggy and clear as dusk approached.  Huge mayflies littered the surface and the river began to boil with rising fish.  Reid gave me dibs on fishing below the dam, but -- as alluring as the pool looked -- I gave him a second chance at his trophy fish.  Besides, the explorer in me wanted to go further up so I waded to a spot 30 yards above it where I found another great hole to cast to below.
The fishing right from the get-go was great and only got better.  The hatch grew in intensity as darkness descended, which in turn seemed to spawn a ferocious feeding frenzy.  I hooked several fish over 16 inches, some of which slurped in my Hex spinner only a few feet from where I stood, but also lost a few that broke the tippet off.  After losing my third fly I had none left to match the hatch with so switched to another fly. In the dim light I spent what seemed like half an hour tying on a deer-hair mouse I'd tied earlier that week, using my head lamp to help. Suddenly, I was startled by a huge splash right behind me.  My first thought was, somebody threw a rock.  After momentarily losing my composure I turned upstream and saw a beaver swimmimg straight at me; it quickly turned and slapped its tail on the river a second time.  I stared upstream for the next several minutes, assuring myself I'd be OK, but never saw it again.
I finally tied on the mouse and let it float downstream, stripping line from my reel when -- boom -- my rod exploded.  I spent the next 15 minutes landing a 22-inch, four-pound Speckled trout!  Reid heard my whooping and waded up to see what I had, only to witness a fish we both felt may have been his earlier that day.  I guess fishing, like life itself, sometimes works out that way: When serendipity strikes, you only hope to be standing in the right place at the right time.  That fish still hangs in my den back home today.
I'll never forget the fun we had fishing there over 30 years ago.  Today more than ever, with a plate full of responsibilities, I yearn for every chance to fish up in God's country.  Only now I take my son along, hoping to find that special spot where we both might find fly-fishing for Speckled trout to be as magical.
Speckled Fever
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