Monday, August 3, 2009

You Must Really Like To Fish

About two months ago I visited my doctor about some pain I'd been experiencing in my abdomen. After a short examination he declared that I had a hernia, and he scheduled an appointment for me to visit a surgeon. One week later I found myself in that surgeon's office explaining that I needed to postpone the operation until mid winter. Naturally, he recommended I have the procedure done immediately. "You'd be up and about in only a few days. Why wait so long?"

Clearly, he wasn't a flyfisherman. He knew nothing of the hendricksons that were, at the time, coming off the water in tremendous numbers. He knew nothing of the sulphurs, which would follow the hendricksons. He knew nothing of brown trout, rainbow trout, brookies, largemouth and smallmouth. He had never double hauled an entire fly line, or lusted after another bamboo rod. The point is that at the time, I had months left in an already far too short fishing season, and I wasn't going to miss even a single day. My wife thought my decision was foolish. Adam disagreed.

Adam is one of the most focused fishermen I know. Strike that. Adam is, without a doubt, the single most intense angler I know. He is keenly perceptive, and purely analytical. If the Battenkill were a place where no man had gone before (sadly ... it is not), Adam would be a Vulcan and his flyrod a tricorder (yes Virginia, I am a geek). The man doesn't just go fishing. He weighs all the variables: air temperature, water temperature, cubic feet of water per second, weather forecast, historical climatic trends, prevalent hatches, and moon phase (by this I mean the moons of Jupiter). He knows when fish are going to be active, and he makes sure to be on the water when they are.

Which brings us to May 31st, 1998. Adam thought it would be a perfect day to fish, and I suppose that when one looks at the variables he was absolutely right. The river was running at roughly 150 cfs, which is perfect for drifting a pair of nymphs. The fish had been active during the previous week, having the tail end of the hendrickson hatch to enjoy. A cold front was threatening, but had not yet moved into the area. If I hadn't been committed to a backyard barbeque with my fiance's family, I probably would have joined him. Everything was looking good.

Yep. Everything was wonderful until the tornado touched down. The worst damage was had by the city of Mechanicville, where 215 mph winds were recorded. Dozens of homes were destroyed, any number of injuries were reported, and five people lost their lives. The storm tracked for miles, slowly losing intensity. By the time it reached the river, homes and barns were spared, but trees along hundreds of yards of shoreline were either uprooted or snapped like so much kindling. Where was Adam through all of this?

Would you believe he fished through the storm? Think about that the next time you find yourself casting a four weight and cursing the wind.

Not too long ago, I was recounting these stories to a colleague. Her response?

"So. You must really like to fish."

Yeah. You could say that.


FoulHooked said...

you could say that...i dont think you can put into words how many of us really feel about it though.

Shaq said...

Well put! There have been many times we have been called Crazy, Stupid, whatever...We love it though! I flew to Alaska from Boston over that storm. I remember the flight attendant saying there were tornados in upstate NY. I thought about my girlfriend now wife driving back over the Mass Pike at the same time. Craziness, I didn't find out that she was safe until I touched down in Dillingham and I wouldn't see her for another 120 days. Then there was the remnants of a hurricane we fished Douglaston in. The woods were dangerous with the trees snapping, the wide open river wasn't too bad though...haha