Another Week in Paradise
On Monday there was that afternoon jaunt up to the pond where twenty fish were caught, maybe. Sometimes you’re too busy reeling and releasing to remember the count. Several rainbows were 16+ inches, along with some smaller rainbows, cuts, and brookies. And no one else was there. The thought arose, “They should be here,” But it was okay that they weren’t.
Tuesday was spent pursuing some larger brookies on a quiet beautiful mountain lake, with no one else around. Float tubes, great action with large colorful brook trout. Not the monsters we had dreamed of, but not bad for a Tuesday. Around 11:30 one small puffy cloud drifted between two peaks, but the rest of the day was pure blue sky so no one complained about the cloud.
Wednesday’s fishing was on a lower-elevation lake, catching nearly obese tiger trout. Never more than one fish per cast, but hardly less than one fish per cast. One cure for obesity is exercise, and we did our best to get those lunkers in shape.
Thursday was spent drift tubing another lake, where there are so many rainbows that the water level would drop noticeably if the fish went away. Unfortunately somebody ordered wind, and it arrived with gusto, or at least with gusts. We caught a few nice trout, but it soon came to be real work to kick hard enough to keep the float tubes off the rocks and out amongst the white caps. We consoled ourselves with a stop at a river on the way home, where plenty of nice browns lunched on our streamers.
Friday morning began with a dozen trout from the pond before 10:30. During that same time all across America thousands of people were being sent out to get a dozen donuts or a dozen bagels. Not to criticize, because who doesn’t like donuts–especially the ones with raspberry filling or just the right amount of chocolate icing? But who can argue that any day that begins with a dozen trout isn’t just a bit better than a day that begins with a dozen donuts? For good measure, the day ended at sunset on the lake with one of those obese tigers taking a green wooly bugger.
Hope your week went well.
Here’s a thought: What if it isn’t the great days that keep you fishing, or the forgettable days when the fish are on some unannounced religious fast, but some combination of the two?. The good days we want to repeat, but it’s those slow days that really keep the fire burning inside.
There was an old fisherman who spent his life fishing this country, a fly rod in his hand from the time he could walk. As he aged the trails grew steeper, the currents stronger, the water deeper and colder, until his fishing days were only memories. He was heard to say, on many occasions, “An old fisherman never dies–he just can’t raise a rod anymore.”
But his time was near, and he knew it. During his final lucid earthly moments, he began to doubt his life-long assumption that his place in paradise was assured. Those lies–how many he caught, how big they were—surely they wouldn’t be held against him? If they do count, he knew he would at least see all his fishing buddies in purgatory.
And then there were the bigger lies, like the time he told his wife he had a girlfriend so she would quit harping about the many evenings he slipped away to throw a fly or two at rising trout. And the heartfelt profanities directed at fly-eating trees and stream-fouling cattle and barbwire-protected stretches of perfect rivers. Wouldn’t they be forgiven on judgment day?
Then his last breath came and left. Family and friends mourned, brought casseroles and cookies, and said only good things about the dearly beloved and sorely missed fisherman. But the fisherman himself was quite relieved to find he had landed on deep grass beside a tidy stone fishing cottage. Out front a sparkling stream twisted through a glorious meadow, and not a cow in sight! Almost instantly a guide appeared from somewhere, holding out a perfectly balanced fly rod already rigged with a delicate crystal diamond-like fly.
“Come,” the guide said. “Eternity has begun for you.”
They walked down to the stream, and the fisherman made his first cast. Not surprisingly, since he was a bit out of practice, the cast was short and landed on the grass just beyond his feet. But a gentle breeze lifted the fly and set in softly onto water, where it was instantly taken by a beautiful two-pound rainbow trout.
The fish flew splashing out of the water, then dived into the deepest part of the hole, twisting and spinning as the fishermen raised it to the surface to be netted by the guide. The fisherman was surprised to see a cell phone appear in the guide’s hand, but he happily posed with the fish for a picture.
The next cast hit the stream, but in the shallowest part of the hole. No matter-almost immediately it was taken by a beautiful two-pound rainbow trout. The fish flew splashing out of the water, then dived into the deepest part of the hole, twisting and spinning as the fishermen raised it to the surface to be netted by the guide
Cast number three went into a bush, but another gentle gust lifted the fly from the branches and set in softly onto water, where it was instantly taken by a beautiful two-pound rainbow trout. The fish flew splashing out of the water, then dived into the deepest part of the hole, twisting and spinning as the fishermen raised it to the surface to be netted by the guide.
The fisherman thought for a moment before making his next cast. It was perfectly thrown, landing at the head of the hole, where it was instantly taken by a beautiful two-pound rainbow trout. The fish flew splashing out of the water, then dived into the deepest part of the hole, twisting and spinning as the fishermen raised it to the surface to be netted by the guide.
Then the fisherman gently laid the rod on the grass. He thought for another moment, turned slowly to the guide, and asked, “Where are we?”