A look back at 2014
I probably could've chosen a better time to change careers but, after almost five years behind the counter I was ready, desperate even, for something new. By late May I'd sold my last fly rod, walked away from a full-time career in the fly fishing industry and shifted gears. Or maybe more accurately, changed vehicles altogether. In hindsight, it was the right move given my priorities, but that didn't make the move any less dramatic at the time. Becky was eight months pregnant, due in late June. It seemed like I'd just barely gotten my feet under me when the doctors started talking about an induction. Honestly, I'd hoped the kid would've given me a little more time, but I didn't really have a say in the matter.
To his credit, in true Lampros fashion he was in no hurry. The induction was scheduled for the week after our due date, and even 36 hours post induction, he still wasn't ready and it was on to the operating room. The scariest moments of my life eventually became the happiest, and although I was physically unable to speak from the shock when I finally laid eyes on him, the nurses graciously handed me the forceps and let me pull the hook.
Henry James Lampros entered the world as a bonafide Fish Ohio, checking in at 8 pounds even, 21" long and immediately flipping my world on it's head. The plates had finally collided, old priorities displaced by new, a landscape changed forever. As the adrenaline wore off towards the end of that mostly sleepless first week things began to reach a stasis. Becky was coping remarkably well for having just had major surgery, and my swaddling game was dialed. Somewhere along the line it dawned on me that this had been, undoubtedly, the longest I had ever gone without thinking about fishing (had he been born during steelhead season I can't say for sure that that would've been the case). I finally looked at my wife, gulped hard and mustered up the courage to pop the question. It must have been the pain meds, because she said yes.
Oddly enough, that first fish following the birth of my son reamins one of my most memorable. The moment was surrounded by an inexplicable sense of serentiy for an experience I'd had so many times before. Part of it, no doubt, was the relief of being able to rest my mind after five exhausting days. But more than anything it was the simple joy of delivering a cast to a likely spot and watching that perfectly predictable fish gulp it down. There were no attachments, no angst, no expectations. As much as it clearly meant to my life, fishing was no longer life or death.
Meanwhile my relationship with muskie continued to progress towards hot and heavy. There'd been a lot of flirting throughout the early summer and even a few memorable backseat encounters. On a late August afternoon, when a perfectly proportioned St. Clair hottie T-boned my fly like a friggin' rocket ship, I was ready to elope.
With a newborn in the house it became imperative to utilize every possible window of opportunity to get on the water. When that window happened to offer a view of sunrise over the city and a couple twothree white bass, it was hard to find anything to complain about.
Hammerin' Hank was growing like a weed, and Mid September seemed about the right time to start showing him the proper steelhead hold.
With the fall run still on the horizon, I took advantage of a long overdue opportunity to share the boat with my old man. The fishing was just a nice bonus.
Fall brought on the leaves and the first chromer of the year, better late than never.
Fall also seemed the right time for that romantic muskie get-away I'd been planning. I felt like we were really starting to get to know each other, and I'd put together the epic northwoods road trip. All the elements were in place - five days of nothing but slinging and strippin'. I was gonna get my 50 on the fly.
I don't care what you hear from the permit freaks: no fish says "Fuck you" with more sass than a muskie. They possess a truly remarkable ability to shatter an anglers spirit and leave him questioning everything. I suppose in that sense, the analogy to the human female holds up pretty well. If nothing else, the scenery on the empty-handed drive home made the medicine just a little easier to swallow.
Thankfully, we're blessed to have a pretty remarkable fishery so close to home. The kind of fishery that, if you hit it just right, can provide a day on the water that makes it feel like you're a long way from home. I needed that day and thankfully, I got it.
Whether guiding or fishing, I also had plenty of the more typical days when a single fish felt like a major accomplishment.
Uplift is a visible phenomenon, permanent in as much as anything of the earth can be. Layers shift, old overtakes new and remains there until some other force comes in and rearranges things again. We can look up at the layers and wonder what may have happened; We can't go back and change it.
I've never been more excited to write next year's review.
Previous years in review: