Find an estuary. Walk down the long gravel path, past the rotting caddy shack, and through the low beach shrubs. There should be gulls in the air and on the water and the light should be low. The smell of dying and decaying fish must be prevalent.
The tide will be low, just beginning to turn. The high bank along the creek covered in crab grass. The creek itself, low after so little rain, running just a few inches deep over the gravel before it pushes out into the estuary.
Approach slowly, crouching low. The people sitting in their kitchens across the little bay might laugh at you, but you won’t know it if they do. The problem is you’re backlit by the low sun and the water is clear and the salmon see well, they’re skittish and wary this close to freshwater.
See the fish, their long shapes flattened by refraction in the water? In groups of 3 or 4 or 5, carefully circling the estuary? Testing out its limits with each turn, nosing up to the creek to see if they can yet slip up into it?
Watch for the pattern. Wait for the timing. After they’ve passed over that sunken log, they’ll turn briefly away and then straight back at you following some submarine path. They’re anxious and aggressive, and a well-placed fly just leading them could probably pull one from the group.
Kneel on the bank. Pull line from the reel and coil it carefully beside you. Hold the small, bright fly in your fingers. There is only a hint of their presence out there, but you see on the surface a line of pushed water as if the lightest breeze were blowing a few ripples toward you. But the air is still.
Drop the fly. Lift your arm. Make the cast.