"When I was young, a teacher had forbidden me to say "more perfect" because she said if a thing is perfect it can't be more so. But by now I had seen enough of life to have regained my confidence in it." - Norman Maclean, in the NOVEL, A River Runs Through It
There's a certain air of expectation that precedes any fishing trip. For days, perhaps even weeks or months, we'll think about the possibilities. We tie flies through the early morning hours, and crawl - bleary eyed - into bed alongside disapproving, less-than-understanding spouses. We check and recheck our rods and reels, cleaning lines, lubricating drags, and waxing ferrules. We buy topographic maps, examine routes, form plans and back-up plans. We could be traveling 20 miles by car or 2,000 miles by plane, the anticipation we feel is the same; the difference is only a matter of degree.
Springing from the same place as our anticipation and hope, is the disappointment we feel when a trip falls through; for one reason or another, the river gods sometimes conspire against us, and rob of us those long anticipated moments. Such was the case this past weekend. I had thought to visit the Salmon River one last time before the real rush of king salmon - thousands of fish - dash upriver followed closely by ten sets of waders for every chinook's tail. Sadly, it just wasn't meant to be. The gods of water, fur and feathers conspired against me, and I spent Sunday afternoon mowing the lawn.
And maybe having missed a trip, having forever lost the promise of that moment, I've discovered a small part of the formula that makes our time on the water so precious. As much as anything else - as much as the rods and reels, flies and fish, rivers and lakes, mountains and meadows - fisherman need hope. We need the undiluted anticipation the precedes that first fish, that first cast, that first moment of revelation when we step into the river.
I think that hope may be the best part of any fishing trip. Hope gives us a reason to string up our rods, struggle into wading boots that are always just a bit too tight, stumble across the currents and the rocks, and set up in a run where we think there might, possibly be a fish. Hope is what keeps us coming back to that run when that fish does not necessarily follow the script. Hope is what makes every day we spend on the water just a little more perfect than the last.