Sunday, January 12, 2014

Snapshots of 2013 - Part 3

October 6th
Western Maryland

We dodged a near disaster getting there.  While gunning it up a mountain on the way to our destination, I looked in the mirror to find my Jeep Commander leaving a trail of thick, ominous, white smoke. After stopping at the most podunk garage I've ever seen and getting a shockingly clean bill of vehicular health, we headed to the nearest truck stop and brought enough oil and transmission fluid to drive cross-country five times over.

Karma came through for us in the end.  Brookies were colored up as they prepared for their spawn, and the rainbows and browns of this rugged mountain tailwater were hungry and waiting.  We were happy to oblige.

October 12th
Western New York.

A good friend told me that the Cattaraugus is like a beautiful woman - she only let's you play with her when she wants to.  This year was no exception to that rule.  Bluebird skies, low water, and a beautiful day in October was the only day I had on what has undoubtedly become my favorite piece of water in the Great Lakes.

We fished from dawn to dusk.  Every fish we hooked kicked our ass.

October 26th
Girard, PA.

We'd timed things well enough. High water on Elk brought silver fish along with it.  Late October - one of my favorite times of the year to be fishing - brought peak fall colors dotting almost every tree.   The fishing was good, but the company was even better.  

Every year I'm reminded that my best days on the water are those where I'm fishing with good friends.  2013 was no exception.

 November and December
Steelhead Alley - Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York.

After a few strong blows, and some significant rain, most color left the woods.  Weather varied between seventy degrees, and Canadian cold fronts that brought frigid lake effect snow.  Another season of guiding carried on strong, and despite challenging conditions, we did pretty damn well.

At the end, the rivers were beautiful wintergreen, fish were in the creeks, and a few times it snowed so hard I could barely see.

December 28th
Conneaut, Ohio.

It wasn't all that long ago when I had to beg my parents to take me fishing - or at least to drive me down to the river for a day.  A decade and change later, roles have reversed. At the end of my guide day, he met me at an exit not far from one of the most productive runs on the creek. On his first pass through the run, his line jumped twice, and then the fish came back for the kill with an arm-wrenching grab.

After one of the best fights I've seen from a fish all year, he landed a beast - and his first steelhead swinging a fly.  I don't know who it meant more to.

Even now, a couple weeks later, that moment remains fresh in my mind - a brief snapshot that was representative of the larger body of time and fishing that made up my year.   I wish I could say that these are the result of finely-tuned skill, or hard-earned only after exhaustive effort - but both couldn't be farther from the truth.  Sure the fish will always be there (to a point), but I can't say the same about the time and the company.  It's just luck - and let's hope there's even more of it this year.


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