CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The rocks under my boots felt familiar enough - not too large, not too small, and as slick as greased bowling balls.
More on that later.
It had been far too many months since I'd last waded a trout stream, and my first few steps convinced me of two things: One, I'm getting old and unsteady; and two, I need to invest in some carbide-studded wading shoes.
Fortunately, the stream was not that large and the current, though swift, didn't have enough volume to push me around.
So I took a few steps forward, made a couple of false casts and dropped the little yellow dry fly into a seam between two current tongues. It floated downstream a couple of feet and disappeared in a sudden swirl.
"Well, that was easy," I said as the rod tip bent and 10 inches of wild brown trout pitched a fit at the business end of the line. After a brief tussle, I slid my hand under the fat-bellied fish, unhooked it and let it slip back into the pool.
Five minutes of fishing, one trout landed; not bad. Maybe the rust on my angling skills wasn't as heavy as I'd feared.
Twenty feet farther upstream, an 8-inch brown shot to the surface to intercept my fly.
"Dang! This is starting to look promising," I mused as I released the fish.
And then I fell in.
One of the greased bowling balls was a little larger than it appeared. My foot slid down its front side, and the toe of my boot wedged between two greased softballs. The other boot slipped from its once-secure perch on a greased basketball, and I went down like a sack of wet cement.