Let me start by clearing the air; No, I haven't fallen off the the face of the blogisphere, just been tied up with a little side project recently. In lieu of a nearly post-less November, and lest you should think said project is keeping me off the river, here's a little anecdote to wet your whistle with on this first day of December.
I shouldn't be here. Three Christmas Ales in excess of my self-imposed limit of two (like burning your lips on the crack pipe because you can't wait for it to cool down). Barely three hours of sleep. An eight-hour work day ahead of me. I shouldn't be here. I'm on autopilot and the windshield is all frosted over. Actually, I'm not even sure that I am here, though the 40-degree water inching dangerously close to my stones with every step downstream is starting to seem pretty convincing.
It's early but with few leaves left on the trees there is plenty of light to see by. I can make out the boulders hidden just beneath the surface that make this a place where a fish should be. I can see the submerged log jam that would love to steal my fly. I can see my breath, briefly. And I can see that there is a knot in my leader. F***.
Reluctantly, I pause to retie. Swinging flies is a painstaking business full of monotony and short on rewards. At the same time, on the rare occasion that you do come tight to a fish the last thing you'd want to do is flub it because of a crusty piece of tippet or a bad knot. Out of the penalty box at last i dump some line, find a rhythm and pump a clean, crisp cast to the far bank.
The first bump barely registers amidst the static of a compromised mental state. I yield no reaction. Then the static is broken by song. It starts soft and quickly builds to crescendo, cutting the cool morning air and rousing me from my zombie walk.
My favorite jam.
The fish is nearly perfect, a hen of 7 or 8 pounds, a distinct pink blush on her sides and the shimmer of my fly hanging from her mouth. When the dance is over we exchange pleasantries and go our separate ways. I find a log to sit on and sip luke-warm coffee, feeling smug. My cause has been justified. That was worth it. The rest of my morning is a bonus. Later, when my friends ask me how the fishing was, I'm not sure what I will tell them; one fish hardly qualifies as a 'good' report. But then I certainly wouldn't say it was bad, would I? Oh well. I guess you just had to be there.