|You can go ... yourself.|
As I sit here at this keyboard, however, I find I cannot remember where I was for those twelve months, and it occurs to me that if I don't know where I've been, then there is a good chance I was lost. Is it possible to lose your way without ever realizing you've fallen off the edge of the map? How does a bug chucker safely wade the current when he's unsure of where he's been or where he may be going? I suppose we have a choice: upstream or downstream, with the flow or against it. We're fishermen, brothers of the long rod, so either way we're likely to find a place that reminds us of home. All we need do is pick a direction and go.
Last season, I spent fewer days wading the river's currents than I did in only the spring of any of the previous twenty years. My waders were dry. My lines were dry, and so too was my imagination. Vanished was whatever enthusiasm I may once have had for throwing a light line over heavy fish - turned to vapors and evaporated in whatever personal drought I was experiencing. Could there be any pain more painful, any hell more hellish, than that of the dedicated bug chucker suffering through the desert? Good Lord, I hope not.
What then brings me back to The Rusty Spinner? I guess I've stepped back in the water, picked a direction, and experienced a renewal of sorts - both of interest and of spirit. Lately, I find myself daydreaming: brown trout and steelhead, bass and bluegill, pike, musky, and carp. I'm a little surprised to discover they're all still there, right where I left them, in the brightest and most colorful parts of my memory. I find I haven't been this fired up about fishing since I was in my twenties, and now I'm making plans - new year's resolutions of sorts. Long overdue resolutions.
First and foremost, I plan to reacquaint myself with my favorite trout stream. She was hard hit by Hurricane Irene in the summer of 2011, and in the seasons that followed, the fishing fell off considerably. I've come to understand that the storm changed her. How might she have remained untouched when in the span of just a few hours the river's flow increased from a seasonal norm of a few hundred cubic feet per second to over 40,000 cfs? Homes and businesses were lost, lives were changed, and for the most part, the river's trout do not hold in many of the the same riffles and runs they once did. I am going to find them; I know they're still there.
|When good rivers go bad|
|Shawn Brillon, formerly of Orvis, now working for MFC|
Thirty years down river and I find myself once more dreaming of these predators. I've already started skimming through the pages of a faded DeLorme Gazetteer and poring over Google Earth; I've marked some likely looking water, and I'm making plans. I'll revisit my old Hudson River haunts. I'll explore two lakes and three or more rivers. This season - with the help of friends and fellow fish bums - I'll rediscover those dragons I chased as a boy. With a little skill and load of luck, I'll stick pins in pike and mess with my first musky. Should the river gods be so gracious, I'll even find time for a few bowfin and gar. I'm giddy at the thought.
My final resolution has nothing to do with fish, but rather with my fellow fishermen. For years, I have been far too secretive and reclusive a bug chucker. I've been such a piscatorial hermit, in fact, that I have failed to cultivate friendships for fear of having to share "my" water with new friends. This is the year that changes. I am officially too old and too tired to isolate myself in some small corner of some small river. This year, people come first. I will offer the keys to the kingdom, an invitation to the inner sanctum, to several people who have until now been on the periphery of my fly flinging world. With luck, they'll realize the invitation is genuine. With luck, they'll share with me a piece of the river I love. With luck, they'll respect that resource as I do, and with luck, their taste in craft beer is only exceeded by the generosity of their natures.