A few weeks ago I headed up to one of the mountain streams, mistakenly thinking that water levels would be high enough to make fishing enjoyable. I was wrong, but still had an interesting day.
First, I wandered off the path early. The trail, easily wide enough for two people to walk side by side, crosses the stream. I forgot this (despite its obviousness) and headed up a steep bank on what eventually turned into just a deer trail. I had to scramble over rocks and fallen trees and try not to slide in the mud and fall of the cliff. When I finally found my way back down to streamside, I realized quickly what had happened, as I reconnected with the main trail after it re-crossed the river. I've rarely felt so foolish while hiking.
Had I gotten into some nice fish, it might have been worth it. Instead, I only caught two fish all day, totalling about 6 inches between them. The only adult trout I saw all day came after I made a perfect cast into a little nook, saw the dry fly stop, and set the hook, hoping to feel some weight on the nymph below. The fish wasn't there, and I saw him swim for cover after my hookset.
I did manage to catch a spider at one point, which marked a first. I was leaning over a boulder, trying to flip my flies into a tiny pocket. It was an awkward angle, necessitated by the fact that a large spiderweb was blocking my casting from downstream (and was too close to the hole to risk knocking it free). Finally a cast flipped too far onto the opposite, head-high boulder and slid against the web. As I brought my line in to clean it off, I noticed that my leader had not only the web on it, but also the spider. I did not panic, but the spider was removed.
Later I also did not panic when I saw a snake drop into the water a few feet upstream from me. I calmly said "Oh baby!" and jumped onto a rock.
Walking out, I stopped and considered that it couldn't be a terrible day. It was a gorgeous place, and even if I had sweated through not only my t-shirt but also my vest without catching a fish, I didn't care.
On the way out, I got my final treat, my first sighting of a millipede, of a size that I thought only existed in the tropics. I didn't have a camera, but it looked something like this:
I didn't touch it, but I stood next to it, and it was about half the length of my wader boot.
I assume this is why we write stories: to give fruitlessness a meaning.