Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Staying True to My Word

Earlier this year, I made myself a number of promises. One of those promises was to reacquaint myself with my home river - my favorite river. Several years ago, she was savaged by a 500 year flood, and that flood left her changed. Her trout - large, dumb, and willing to take a fly - all but disappeared when the flood waters abated. Probing with nymphs or streamers, we would still find the occasional corker, but those out-sized fish became proverbial needles in the haystack. Every time I waded her runs and pools, I was reminded of what she had been, and I left feeling sad that her best days were behind her. And then, during the season of 2015, there was a faint ray of hope.

On each of several long floats, we found noses - snouts sucking down hendrickson duns and sulphur spinners. They weren't all in the usual places because many of the usual places had been wracked by flood, but they were there nonetheless. By the end of 2015's season, I came to understand that while the river had changed, I had not. I also came to the realization that such a fragile fishery needs more friends, not fewer.

For more than two decades I barely even whispered the river's name. I fished with a select group of bug chuckers, each of whom had taken a vow of silence, and for nearly thirty years we kept secret our bounty. We caught fish - a lot of fish, big fish - but we did so to the exclusion of other anglers and to the detriment of potential friendships. This year, I've resolved to change all that.

Don't misunderstand me. I don't plan to publish any GPS coordinates. I won't sacrifice my relationship with the river to the gods of cyberspace, but I am broadening my circle. I've opened myself to new friendships. With a handshake and a promise to treat her well, I've introduced some fine anglers to the river I know and love, and I've learned every bit as much from them as I hope they might learn from me.

More to the point, I've enjoyed fishing more than I have in quite a while.