Dawned the Nation’s Birthday and Salmo found himself in the Cimarron River canyon of northeastern New Mexico, surrounded by the 40 million-year-old Palisades, towering igneous sentinals of geologic time at 8,000 feet elevation. The objects du jour, of course, were swimming somewhere nearby in the Cimarron River, rolling and twisting its way from Eagle Nest Lake, down the eastern declivity of the southern Rockies to the high desert plains.
The first fish of the day, seduced by a number 14 Rio Grande King, proved to be vigorous for its size, covered brightly with parr marks and anxious to return to the riffle from which he had so rudely been removed.
Best news of the day were legions of brown trout, sharing with Salmo a heritage of European immigrants to the New World. Every pool, riffle, and undercut bank provided ample cover and insect life to ensure a continuing stream of wild trout for present and future generations of fish and fishers alike. Together with the exotic hatchery rainbows, the Cimarron River provides a diverse fishing experience for summer angling in the southern Rocky Mountains.
On other time scales, the phenology of life in Cimarron Canyon revealed that Salmo was too late to witness a major hatch of stoneflies. Shucks remaining from stonefly emergence, possibly golden stones, testified to the change of seasons on the river, signalling that time stands still only in the imaginations of poets and other ephemeral inhabitants of the planet.
Further evidence of the irrepressible passage of time occurred that day when a campground host reported the sighting of a mountain lion carrying a cub across the roadway downstream of Salmo’s fishing reach.
A memorable day, filled with patriotism, indigenous flies, naturalized and artificially supported populations of stream trout, all glimpsed through a miniscule window of geologic time.