January 4, 2010

New Year's Eve

Last year I went fishing with Salvador Dali. He was using a dotted line. He caught every other fish.
Steven Wright

New Year's Eve, in my mind, has always been 'Amateur Night'. It's a time to stay out of the eye of the 'storm'; storm being the definitive I attach to this peculiar period of time immediately preceding/following the advent of each and every 'New' year. A few hours of time each year, when, more than ever, common sensibilities and reason are thrown out the windows of all the vehicles and establishments inhabited by those who make this holiday a true danger zone. So, if I'm going to be out, I make damned sure I'm back 'in' before all this breaks loose. And, as is so often the case, it usually does. Even when it doesn't, the mere fact that there are so many folks out there doing things that drive me nuts, well, that's reason enough to lock the doors, snuggle up to my tying vise, and let Tom Waits serenade me until the danger has passed.
"Oh the river
knows your name..."
My way of bringing in the Newest year was to spend the last few daylight hours of 2009 at my place of worship; The Church of the Rainbow Trout, Spokane River Chapter. The early afternoon was a misty drizzle, and even though the flows were good, I couldn't coax a single fish to any of the many flies, using as many different methods. And, as time passed, the realization that I was getting chilled (leaky waders) couldn't help but put an exclamation point on the overriding thought that I might possibly finish up '09 getting stinky (skunked).
I looked down at my very red, numbing hands. It was decision time. Should I pack it in, reel up and call it good? There had been some great days here recently, and maybe that's what I would have to take with me into next year. I smiled at that. Seemed symbolic for some reason. Of exactly what I'd have time to figure out, but for now, well...
So. I checked my watch, then made a fist with each of my hands, pressed my left thumb and forefinger together. Hm... still a little opposition there...
... and then dug into my right hip pocket, extracting my secret weapon. My Lamson Waterworks reel wound with a type 3 - 9 ft. sink tip.I got busy, working as fast as I dared because not only was daylight fading, so was my ability to be dexterous enough to trade reels, thread the line, and tie on a new offering (pictured).
Casting a sink tip is not easy. There is nothing poetic, or mystical about casting a line that is at once a dry line and a very dense, heavy, sinking line. It's a totally utilitarian process. Your line wants in the worst way to hinge at the spot where the two types merge. Either you know how to avoid it, or you don't. There is no in between. And, if you're prone to hurrying your backcast, or have not enough line speed, well, you're in for a real snappy macrame project or a new earring, or both.
Fortunately, having dealt with this for several years, I've come to an 'understanding' with my rod. If I don't hurry, the rod doesn't buckle, and if the rod doesn't buckle, my cast stays in the air. If my cast stays in the air, I can deliver it. Distance is, however, very nearly always another story, although this particular cast carried my olive bugger almost 45 feet across and downstream. I tore another 25 feet off the reel and threw it in behind the cast with the rod, watching the current pull an arc in what remained visible of my fly line.
There are these moments that may occur now and then in the life of a cast, as it is swung across the current. They are few and far between, these fleeting moments, but they bring with them what can be almost surely defined as a sense of clairvoyance. Everything slows down. You are transported to a place where all the stars are aligned and in their proper house. Where all is good and right and you know, you know that something's about to happen...
Wham. Solid. Shock of the pull. Line peeling off my Lamson. Yellow giving way to white, as I watch the backing knot exit the top of my rod. Adrenalin. I can feel my hands again...
Fish of the year. On the last day. How very fitting. A sweet end to a great year on my river.

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