I'm pretty lucky. I can reach a nice fishing spot on the Cedar River in less than 20 minutes from my house. No freeway driving, traffic or anything, just a leisurely jaunt at 35 MPH down local, tree-lined thoroughfares. The Cedar River runs from the Cascades to its mouth 50 miles away in Renton where it feeds Lake Washington with life-sustaining, clean, cold water. On this river, one can find relative peace, solitude and wilderness within an essentially cosmopolitan area. The Cedar River reminds me of a gentle cross between the Snoqualmie Middle Fork and the Upper Yakima. I really love this river. For many years, the Cedar River was closed to fishing in an attempt to protect certain runs, of steelhead and salmon, I imagine. Recently, anglers have been allowed to return for a short time during the summer. That time is now, which is what has led me to you, here, on this board. In anticipation of the Cedar's opening, I made a few side trips in the preceding weeks to explore the water and to see if I could spot any fish. Reconaissance, I suppose one could call it. My reconaissance was productive, and I did spot fish. I spotted fish in one particular hole, a channel, you could say. They were there, lots of small 6-8 inchers. They were exactly where I would hang out had I been born a trout. I assumed they were wild rainbows since this river has not been stocked in years. I had found them, these little, wild rainbows, in this hole; this little hole just off a country road near my home. Amongst these little guys, I thought I glimpsed what looked like a monster fish, at least 24 inches. What could it be? Was it really a fish? Were my eyes deceiving me? The windows of clarity through the water were brief and fleeting. I could only barely make out what look like a big slow moving object when the elements of wind, light and current intersected perfectly to unveil a glimpse of the deep pool's secret. I doubted what I saw. I doubted myself. As a fisherman, I am prone to doubt. This hole had raised my doubts. I needed to find out - there was no alternative. I had to satisfy my need to know, my need to connect with whatever was living at the bottom of that pool, my need to prove that I could pull from the pool its biggest fish, my need to exist through a physical connection with this fish, assuming IT even existed. After opening day, I returned a couple times to this lovely little spot on the Cedar River. I covered the run with various flies, using my $800 3-weight Sage rod to whip a dinky $2 fly while wearing my $0.99 plastic flip flops. I caught a few small rainbows, but it took effort. These fish seemed smart. That's the only way to put it - it was like they were on to me. They were teasing me. They seemed to take pleasure in ignoring my offerings, only occasionally biting the fly at the end of my line, as if to give me just the amount of action necessary to keep me from going home. All this time, while being played by the baby fish in this hole, I could see occasional flashes at the bottom of the pool, indicating larger life and game still uncovered and uncaught. What was it? A trout, a whitefish, a salmon, a steehead? I was not sure. There was that doubt again and its corresponding needs. I tried everything to entice a strike from the bottom of that pool: dries, nymphs, weights, no weights, long leader, short leader. My efforts were for naught. And because the rules say that fishing must end at dusk on the Cedar River, as night fell, so did my hopes of a big fabled, Cedar River rainbow. My hopes fell as my doubts rose again. I figured that hole would unveil its treasure to another fishermen, but not to me and not today. A few days later, yesterday to be precise, I returned on a whim to this spot on the river. To my surprise, I found myself there alone. The sun was hidden by the clouds, the wind was variable and the river ran shades of green and brown, making its surface impervious to my poloarized glasses. I decided to fish for a little while, maybe 30 minutes - an hour at the most. I got nothing and I prepared to leave. That's when the river opened up. A window to the bottom appeared, and there it was again, a huge fish with a white mouth, white belly and white tipped fins. It was feeding, lounging and playing apparently, right there under my feet. I am an avid reader of fishing books and I have read many on the art or sport of flyfishing for trout in rivers. One of the basic tenets of every book of this genre is to be stealthy. If you can see the fish, then it can see you, they say. Your presence will spook the fish and put them down. But, here I was, standing directly above this fish looking at it, and I am sure it looking at me. He was not spooked and went about his business oblivious to the fishing folklore bandied about in books. An hour had passed since I arrived. No bites. Now, I was supposed to go, but here I was with this imagined trophy at my feet. The doubt was gone - the fish was real. No way I could leave now. I stood on the bank of the Cedar River, not moving really, throwing everything I could think of in this channel. Spot the fish. Guess its feeding lane. Put the fly in front of its nose. Nothing. Repeat. Change fly. Repeat. Another hour passed and then another. Was I going insane? Three fishermen walked past with long rods and heavy spin gear. "Any luck?", one asked. "No." Another hour passes. Three more fishermen appear. "Catch any?" "No, just having fun. Nice day for fishing." Three Mexicans, or at least Latinos, pass by. "How many you catch?" "Zero", I responded truthfully. They went on their way. I could hear them chuckling. All this time, I am standing directly above this fish, whipping the water with my fly line and watching hatch after hatch of various mayflies and stoneflies. As the clock approached 4, I knew I would need to go soon to prepare for dinner. I had been there since noon. I tied on a little nymph pattern that had worked well before on the Cedar River. I chose a size a bit bigger out of respect for what had by now become my adversary, my love, my obsession. Last cast. No, one more cast. Last cast. One more cast. Oh, this one looks good. And, then it happened. The moment I had hoped, the moment I had stopped believing would come. That magical moment when time both stops and speeds up. The moment when the strike indicator goes down. There is no time to think. I know there is no log or obstruction here in the river for my fly to get caught on. Instictively, I raise the tip of my rod sharply. The rod bends deeply. Whatever is at the end of my line feels solid, almost like the bottom but it's harder and it's alive. A split second later, the water explodes. A fish comes rocketing straight from the bottom like a missile. It launches itself two feet into the air and lands with a splash as if someone had thrown a boulder in the water. I know it's my fish, but I'm still not sure what it is. My mind is racing. Don't lose it. Whatever you do, don't fuck this up. Tip up. Keep tension. Not too much tension. Cannot lose this fish. Instructions to myself are borne in doubt, but deep inside I know this fish is mine now. The fish peels out line and heads for the current. I pull him back. He darts for a log and then an underhang. He fights until my modern equipment of graphite and fluorocarbon defeats him. I reel him in. He is stunning. I admire him, snap a few pictures and let him go, back to his hole. My doubt is cured, at least for now. Epilogue: My tape measure broke at Lake Sammamish measuring the 20-inch cutthroat of a fellow fisherman, so I was not able to measure this rainbow, but I was struck very deeply by the beauty and strength of this particular animal. It was obviously healthy and showed no apparent signs of having been caught before. Its colors were blazing, perhaps the most beautiful I have seen on a rainbow. Its fins were big and sharp, not worn and rounded like many hatchery fish. This was one of those fabled Cedar River rainbows I have read and dreamed about for years. This was a fish worthy of utmost respect and preservation. Tight lines. G.