We were up in Steamboat this past Labor Day weekend, and I fished the Yampa 3 days in a row. And sometimes, things just line up right, y’know? And after a year of things not quite lining up right in other elements of my life – a near-miss here, a dropped ball there, an egregious field goal attempt that soars wide left - I’ll take the little victories where I can get them.
This time, I was there when thousands of caddis started drunkenly zig-zagging an inch above the water like tendrils of fog. I put myself in place for a modest sized rising brown trout. I hooked said brown trout, which immediately rocketed downstream. Upon wrapping itself around a boulder, a 19 inch cuttbow took the other dry in my tandem rig, the brown popped off, and suddenly I have a fish on that’s 6 inches longer and about 2 pounds heavier. It took about 5 minutes to get this fish to hand, and swimming in the hole where I eventually landed it were 3 young ladies in bikinis who kindly offered to take my picture.
Sometimes things just line up.
It has been a tough year for a lot of reasons, which, I guess don’t really need to be covered here in this space where fly fishing is the focus. But I’ll just say that next to the love and support from family and friends, the escapism that fishing provides me has certainly been my most powerful coping mechanism. It also never fails to give a little perspective either, since there are people who have had far worse years than I have.
For me, time on the river is utterly elemental, and, at its core, translates to a short list of experiences and states of being that bring me back to center. Among those:
-Water sliding around my shins
-The rich perfumed smells of riparian environments
-The wild, unpredictable, and colorful beauty of encounters with fish
-Above all, an empty and quiet mind
Fly fishing is hours of meditative movement, punctuated by brief moments of adrenaline when a fish is finally on. Who wouldn’t love that? When I first started fly fishing, it was those shots of adrenaline that kept me coming back; now, I think it’s all that slow motion time in between. I’m still not yet to the point where I can sit on the bank for an hour, watching the water roll by as rising trout bury surface duns in a smooth run, but I’m getting closer. 6 years ago I would’ve waded noisily into the run and put the fish down.
Now, I can wait a whole 5 minutes before doing that.