Every now and then when I wade into the river I can smell the water, it has a particular odor that reminds me of fish without being a fishy smell. It smells like water that has fish in abundance in it. It doesn't smell like fish, it doesn't smell like an aquarium. It is a very mild smell that somehow reminds me of low tide, but without being strong at all.
I noticed it again this past Saturday. It had rained a bit that morning, just a sprinkle really. The sky was overcast and the river was low and slow and had a mirror surface. The water was clear and the bottom was clean gravel. Moss hasn't started to grow back yet, not since the great scouring it got in June and July.
The air was close. Warm, heavy, humid. Not a hint of a breeze. The silence was almost stunning in its intensity. Not a bird song, not a sound of any kind except the little splashing sounds I made as I waded towards a good spot. The quiet was so absolute that I could hear the ringing in my ears, the sound of my own blood singing. Nothing else. Dead quiet.
And the smell of the water was incense. It probably smells like that all the time but there's generally some breeze, and I don't think you can detect this smell if there's any breeze at all. Now and then it's like this though, and the smell is, well pleasant and wild, and completely natural. The kind of odor that makes you breathe deep through the nose to examine it better, to enjoy it just that much more.
When it smells like that I always think the fishing is going to be extra good. It was excellent too, for a fact. I caught twenty something large mouth bass in one hole next to a log. Eight of them in eight casts and the rest of them no more than two casts apart. Nice bass, eighteen to twenty inch bass, hard fighting bass. They did all the bass things - pulled hard, pulled deep, lept into the air, ran back and forth and gave great accounts of themselves.
I caught probably fifty or more bluegills, mostly big ones. They had the most amazing coloration going on - these are the orange breasted ones, with the long ears and the electric blue tracings - but this day they were several shades darker than usual - the orange a dark burnt orange and the electric blue more of a muted green against a bronze background. Gorgeous fish, and the best fighters in the world for their weight class. Big ones, many in the ten inch range, most all above eight inches. Fighters, every one.
It was a magical fishing day, the kind that comes along about once a year. The kind where it seems like no matter where you cast or what fly you tie on, a fish is eagerly waiting for it. And that smell, that smell was as gorgeous as those bluegills and kept me out there far longer than I had planned on.
Far longer but not nearly long enough. I love it when the water has that smell. It's the smell of fish biting. It is the smell of water in its natural, fertile, state. It is pure magic.