Thursday, May 24, 2012

"What a long, strange trip it's been..."


Nearly 7 months ago, in what to that point had been just a friendly game of "Go Fish," I was dealt the Cancer Card seemingly out of the blue. At first I stumbled around in a haze of confusion, wondering what my move would be. When it became clear that nobody was going to take that card off my hand, I decided to borrow a line from Jerry Garcia and the Do-Dah Man, who "once told me you've got to play your hand... sometimes your cards ain't worth a dime if you don't lay 'em down."

So playing the hand I was dealt with a little help from my partners at the table, I faced it head-on and took a business-as-usual approach. Fishing when I could, never missing a day of work, and conceding rest when I needed it. The formula worked (we hope), and tomorrow will mark one full month since I rang the bell commemorating my last chemo treatment.

Finishing treatment seemed as good a reason as any to take a fishing trip, so the boys and I packed up and headed for the hills. Maybe it was just me, but this year the greens seemed greener, the brookies bigger and brighter, the food and drink a little more savory. On the Savage, a notoriously difficult river to wade, a fog crept over us like clockwork each day, bringing with it a quietness and opportunity for reflection. The smoky haze forced us to sharpen our focus and take it one step at a time, hoping that when it lifted there would be rising fish waiting for us.

The trip wasn't quite long enough - they never are - so as we hit the road for home Alex and I were already hashing out fishing plans for the rest of the week. Again, maybe it's just me and my rose colored glasses, but the bass seem bigger, more plentiful... and happier this year.

The carp on the other hand are just as ugly, slimy and downright tough to catch as they've always been.

For not being thought of as a fly fishing destination, I am constantly amazed at the quality and variety of fishing available to anglers in our region. One of my favorite parts of my job is sharing those opportunities with new anglers, and this summer we've been at it again with our fly fishing 101 and 201 classes. While there are plenty of windknots and tailing loops to sort out, there are moments that make it all worth it. Watching this little guy holding the oversized rod with both hands, laying out a perfect cast and then panting with excitement as he reeled in his first ever trout on a fly, was definitely one of them.

So the long, strange trip continues and gets more and more interesting as we go. To make sure of that, just as I was finishing up treatment my fiance decided it was a good time to buy a house. To be fair, I was warned of what this could mean, and in just over a month we've already experienced many of the "joys" of home ownership. This has cut into my fishing and blogging time a little bit, but is certainly nothing to complain about. There's a lot to look forward to as spring turns to summer in this part of the world. The carp may not be getting any prettier, but they should start eating a little better soon!


  1. they found mine during a spinal MRI for an unrelated ailment. 8 months ago they pulled my kidney, and so far no signs of spreading.

    at least i didn't have to deal with chemo or radiation. on the other hand, at least you've got that option.

    good luck on remission, i'm just assuming mine's been cut out before it spread and we can both live to ripe old ages where we die in fiery car wrecks or something awesome and not goddamned cancer.

  2. Amen, Brother! All the best to you and good luck with your battle. Live long and prosper and thanks for the note!