May 26, 2010

Twenty Days...

All things come round to him who will but wait.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Winter has passed the torch to spring. She knows, and obediently strips the high ground of its white mantle, then stands back to admire her work.
I shift a restlessly in my tying chair, eyeing the calender on the wall above my vise. Above each new month I have written the number of days until my home water, my river, will be able to receive me again. This morning, I know the days are passing, albeit with a seemingly calculated malaise, and I am enthused about the prospect of my early season reconnaissances. Curiosity overwhelms me. I so look forward to my re-discoveries. Especially this year.
Flows are already at late June levels. This is a blend of both good, and bad news. Winter, due to the presence of la nina', basically took a vacation, leaving only minimal snowpack above the drainage systems of the river basins. Temperatures were abnormally high, and most of the moisture fell in the form of rain, even in the usually high-snow areas. And, although we are ahead of schedule as far as run-off is concerned, the spring, at least so far, has been an unsettled period of rain, lower than normal temperatures, and plenty of wind. Nature always gets the last say, it seems. She manages to balance the scales somehow.
I think about the river as the summer passes. This year will certainly see record low flows, even with the Army Corps of Engineers at the helm dictating flows out of Couer'd Alene Lake. yes, we will always, since the building of the 2 dams upriver in the early nineteen thirties, be at their mercy. Priorities evolve around the need to keep lake levels at a heighth whereby the landowners are guaranteed access to the lake via their boats and their docks. Everything else downstream suffers a bit because of this, because some things will just not be available to change.
But, as I've mentioned before, the trout of the Spokane are survivors. Not only do they maintain, they prosper. And now, pulling another softhackle from my vise, I am again visited by the that wonderfully puzzling dilemna. Where will I go first. Where will I decide to swing the fly that for years has brought me such success.
It's almost time to begin again. And each year brings with it the anticipatory state of exhilaration. Time passes. I pass with it, conscious of the forgiving nature of new beginnings. Of lessons learned.

May 21, 2010


By the time we hit fifty, we have learned our hardest lessons. We have found out that only a few things are really important. We have learned to take life seriously, but never ourselves.
Marie Dressler

Sometimes I have my doubts. But, then maybe we all do, although I don't know that for sure. All I know is that occasionally, I surprise myself. This comes from a man who for many years secretly admired his own seeming immortality, and severely tested the structure, the very nature, dubious as it now is seen, of such a belief.
Possibly it's the years and the resulting accumulation of experiences and incidents. Or, maybe it's more than that. More than the sum of what parts I see as the benchmarks, the components of my learning curve. I guess what I'm trying to say is that through all the mystery and wonder I've had the privilege to wander through in my life, some of it has left an indelible, precious imprint.
Waist deep in moving water, my loop extending, reaching out to the dimple that expands somewhere deep in my heart. What could it be to have every cast land my delicate fly in the center. To split the sometimes harsh wind numbing my hands with an arrow so sharp...
I wander, without regard to time or destination, downstream. The wind is at my back now, pushing the sun ever closer to the horizon. And though the wind is merciless, I still see the rings, more clearly than I ever thought possible. And I now understand why this is, feeling the pull as I send out another arrow.
Straight to the expanding ring that is my heart.

May 18, 2010


If you try hard enough, you can bend the spoon; you can shift reality.
Christopher Meloni

It's been a few days since I last posted here. The few of you who may frequent this blog might have spent a nanosecond or two wondering...
I was going to start this out with something about the ongoing changes we all progress through as the days roll past. Maybe something about yeah, I don't now where they go, why they go by so fast, or where they keep coming from(maybe connect it somehow to my fishing). But sometimes, for reasons I begin to understand, those days that stretch out in front of us tend to demand a little more attention, a fact that is not always apparent when we are totally submerged in our presents.
But, as I started to compose, I had a simple epiphany. Epiphany is a grossly overused word these days, and we all know what it means, and also where it originated, but that's what it was.
I'd been reading some of my earlier posts, partly to insure that I did not plagiarize myself but mostly because although unconscious of it, I was already in the early stages of a significant realization; a slow awakening culminating in that 'epiphany'.

There are countless passions. It is hoped by this writer that indeed everyone should have the opportunity to discover and cultivate theirs. Those of us who have found that priceless treasure certainly know what I speak of. I've always thought that upon closer inspection those of us bequeathed with this special gift might stand out from the rest, and I believe that more now than ever. There is this viable, palpable ambience to them that sooner or later shows itself to me as I get to know them, no matter what it is they are impassioned with. There is an energy emerging from them, a focus on horizons unseen by most. It is what drives them, no matter that they may be involved with be there a hundred or a thousand different arenas in their lives. I am in awe of the magic it brings to their lives because I know. I live with and for that same magic.
I sat at my vise the other day, as I do so often. Not there for any other reason than to enjoy a few odd moments just poking through the plethora of materials I might employ. Ideas spill forth as my fingers explore the textures and contours, my eyes drawn this way and that. All of this inviting me to scheme, or re-live events, to cast into futures. A few idle moments turns into time passed. Time was when it was time lost. Not anymore. It is precious time. I cannot have it back, and yet, it gives me back so much in return that I might never fully comprehend its value.
There are thousands of us who fish with flies, and countless reasons why we do. That some of us have found something so much deeper in the simple act of casting a fly to riseform speaks volumes about the art.
It is our heart talking to us when we find it, in the perfect, sweet language of clarity, and passion. It deems us valuable and pertinent. It provides us with sanctity and vision.
That was my epiphany, and I will hold this close to me, now, as my years flow slowly past. It is my safe, warm place. It is where I can go no matter how far I may roam, or how close I choose not to be.
And I sincerely hope that you have found yours.

May 6, 2010

Seeing through.

It is hard to believe that a man is telling the truth when you know that you would lie if you were in his place.
H.L. Mencken

There were two of them, both tight to fish, as I neared their position from downstream. I was in transit to a spot I'd elected to visit next, having swallowed a few bitter pills at the previous location. They seemed engaging enough, and I stopped after my presence was noted approvingly to first compliment them on their success which, for me, is a pleasant pre-cursor to digging for details.
They were, at least in their own minds, well-versed in the art of deception, as do many of us who maybe consider ourselves a bit shrewder than those we may deal with in certain situations. That's always something to be aware of in the quest for information, for what you seek is often thought by those you may query to be much too valuable to be responded to in a forthright fashion. It's wise to know this going in. Answers to questions like, "What're you fishing with?" may not be well received. It's more than wise to accept this caveat when posing questions of this perceivably delicate nature, which makes it even wiser to first be able to read situations and employ a level of tact. Of course, all the respect and deference you can muster may not be rewarded with viable information. That probably happens more often than not. That's when it's wise to smile, thank whoever it is you have put on the spot, and move on, wiser for the wear, at least in your own mind.
But these two gentlemen had a very practiced, well-rehearsed production; something I immediately became aware of as they so willingly provided me with 'pertinent' details, and even attempted to skein information from me guised in what I later decided was an insultingly slick attempt at camaraderie.
Two can play at this game, I thought, eagerly disseminating only the most 'precious' details concerning the nature of their future successes while fishing this area.
A short while later, as I tailed a rather large, feisty buck, I was approached by another fisherman who, in his stead, pushed all the right buttons on his way to THE QUESTION. He prefaced his quest with a story about the two fellows he'd talked to earlier, and as his account went on, I couldn't help but smile.
"Yeah, I spoke to them this morning," I told the gentleman, "all I have to say about my chat with them is this. Sometimes you have to take what you're given with a few grains of salt."
He smiled back. "Hm. Lesson learned. Again." He turned, and headed back down the trail, a little wiser than before.

May 3, 2010


Change in all things is sweet.

I don't walk as fast, with as much enthusiasm, as I used to. I'm prone to stop more often, for as good a reason as any to just simply take in the view. And in these extended moments, I now see far more, and with better clarity, than what I saw with younger, sharper eyes.
My fishing, indeed every facet of my passion for casting flies to trout, reflects this 'change'. The word change may be a rather abrupt way of describing what has probably (and quite imperceptibly at first) been slowly permeating my pursuit of this passion for awhile now. Blessedly, there are vantage points along our ways that reveal to us just how our lives have changed, and how most times that change is for the best.
And, I think, that suits me very well. Better, now, is it when I look back. When I see the old photos which are always clipped in our minds to the memories in between the pictures. The days and years unwind again and open like a book and I see myself, framed in the times, no conceivable way of understanding where it was I was to be years from that point.
All of these thoughts swirl through my head as I stand on a small muddy promontory flanked by cattails, casting across the gently moving currents to a regularly occurring ring two or three feet off the bank some forty feet down and across from my position. The breeze comes lightly from the west against my left side, and as I lengthen my cast, measuring the distance, I am quietly rejoicing in the feel of the pull as I start forward with each cast; how beautiful the loop appears as it extends out over the early morning reflection of the sun on the water. And finally, even now, after all the years of fishing, the silent triumph of my fly landing softly at line's full extension in the center of the expanding ring. Time was when this went unnoticed. Time was when the target was everything, to the point that getting there was taken for granted, and sometimes not even achieved. Now, it is a simple, but glorious moment, quite aside from the context of the bigger picture. Everything in its time.
I understand that now, and that brings a smile as I watch my fly drift downstream with the gentle current.