Fishing is much more than fish. It is the great occasion when we may return to the fine simplicity of our forefathers.
Every time, now, as I begin the walk down to the creek, I am reminded of my dad. He was here with me only one time, but, it turns out, that every time I get to this place, I remember that morning. Before working our way down through the large stones that dot the trail, we stopped. I pointed out the location of several of my favorite spots. He, in his usual, almost impatient way of being adamant about wanting to know precisely, got close so that he could look down my arm to see exactly where it was that my finger was pointing.
"I can see fish jumping", he said, in spite of a huge cigar wedged in the corner of his mouth, referring to the rings he saw intersecting on the surface just upstream from our vantage point. I call them rises now, but, for as long as I live, I will always remember the excitement in his voice when he'd see rings caused by feeding fish. Images come back to me from my youth... dad, in his straw hat, cigar crushed between gritting teeth, cruising slowly through Distillary Bay, looking for feeding cutthroat... I heard that same excitement in his voice that morning. That's a good memory. I also remember a sad one from an afternoon not long before he died. I'd been telling him about a recent day fishing at 'The Ford'. I'd always bring the flies I used, to show him, thinking that he'd appreciate seeing what it was I caught fish, or got skunked with. I think he did. One day, as we sat watching the fire slowly dying in the fireplace, I said to him, "... so we gotta get you better so we can go out to Rocky Ford again", and he looked at me for the longest time through a hopeless half-smile, before telling me, "I'm trying as hard as I can"...
We never did make it back out. But now, even though I am alone when I go there, I don't really feel that way when I stop, above the large rocks that dot the trail, to watch the fish jump.