I cast again, and again, hurling my now invisible fly into the darkness. I could no longer see it land, nor even the little splash it would it make as the weight was released.
From upstream, a shout.
Greg had caught one, a fat 16 inch rainbow as it turned out, in the faster water above me. He fought it quickly, landed it, and we met halfway so I could see it. The only fish I would see that day.
Waiting patiently as the fish gathered breath again, he cupped it in his hand in the water. It finally gathered strength and darted away, out, into the fast water.
I moved back down to the slower pool and Greg returned to his spot above me.
A raccoon - I think, I could only see its eyes glittering in the light of my headlamp which I turned on intermittently - moved slowly along the opposite bank, close to the waters edge foraging for fish. I watched it make progress towards me, while I cast again and again. Over perhaps ten minutes - time passes almost imperceptibly at night on a river - it moved slowly along the rivers edge. As it came nearly opposite me it moved up the bank to where the land rose, hopped a few times, it's eyes moving crazily, and with one final glance it disappeared.
In the air, chasing the insects and moving in unpredictable flight, looping and swirling, a dozen bats feasted on the mayflies.
Casting towards the far bank with a large weighted fly, my back cast was suddenly overweighted.
I had hooked a bat mid flight.
Bringing the line in I saw the hook was free but the line was wrapped around one wing.
I called out to Greg, ''I've caught a bat!''
''What? No way!'' - Stuttering laughter in the green tinted darkness.
I reeled in the slack end and moved towards the shallow water as Greg moved down to me.
Examining the bat I could see its fragile diaphanous wings and the sharp little claws; it's tiny head, and its small pink mouth set with tiny but sharp teeth.
I didn't want to risk a bite from those.
It took some moments to grasp the fly with my pliers as the bat now opened then shuttered its wings - caught between the panic of its entrapment and the two bright lights shining on it - while Greg maneuvered to clip the line above the struggling and now bat festooned fly, looking more lifelike than I could ever hope to imitate.
As the line was cut, the bat fluttered and startled me, whereupon I released the pliers and the fly and bat fell and vanished into the darkness.
We pondered whether the bat had escaped the fly and line or whether it had made a meal for a hungry brown trout somewhere downstream.
I felt bad for the bat's misfortune, and wished I had done a better job of releasing it; in my defense, it was the first time I had released a live bat from a fly line.
Sighing inwardly on leaving the river, we gathered our gear and moved up the trail into the forest, our lights casting bright worrying glances ahead of us.