September 30, 2010

On an uncommon day.

After my spectacular failures, I could not be satisfied with an ordinary success.
Mason Cooley

It is in these last days of September wherein my memories of this year's fishing on my river will be most vivid. The weather has been perfect. Clear, sunny days of morning coolness rising to moderate afternoon temperatures, and little or no wind. Makes it easier to forget the gray, cool inclemency of August, and even most of July. And although I know all good things must eventually end, I revel, especially now, as always, in the present.

An uncommon day of fishing on the river could be taken two ways. One might possibly think I would be about to describe a day filled with frustration, angst. A day lost to misfortune and error, a day wrought with failure.

Not, happily, today.

Every now and again, a day like this comes along. I've always thought they're bound to, mingled in with the others, lined up indiscriminately into our futures as far as our minds care to comprehend; the good, not-so-good and just plain bad, invariably quite indiscernible until they each step forward and reveal themselves to us.

Today I marked the sixth straight day of fishing. As I said, with the weather being so good, I would have been crazy not to have been down there. There is an old saying about the fishing always being good but sometimes the catching is a little slow? Well, a fly fisherman not educated in the ways of my river could possibly find purchase in that old adage were it not for the fact, usually ignored, that my river is decidedly not the kind of river that most of the folks who like to wet flies in are drawn to. In fact, it can be downright stingy when it comes to giving up any knowledge as to where, or how it should be fished. I don't pretend for a second that I have any more, or any better knowledge than any other person who's spent as much time down there as I have, although, in all honesty, I have yet to meet anyone who has. But, sometimes, usually after a couple of good days, I will allow myself to think I do, until the next day arrives and I'm quickly reminded that while experience is the best teacher, clearly I have not accumulated nearly enough of that. That thought haunts me still, after how many years?

So maybe today was a carrot, a reward for my persistence. A gold watch for so many years of service. A gesture. An acknowledgement of the hours spent. A royalty, or dividend, designed to allay any of the many anxieties I may have incurred through all those years.

Or maybe, just maybe, I am actually, finally putting my experience to good use. I think for now I'll go with that, at least until I'm inevitably forced to face reality again.

It didn't really all just happen today, this realization. The past few days have been extremely satisfying, weather-wise and fishing-wise. No, not a lot of fish brought to hand; no inordinately high fish counts. No wild, reel-screaming fierce battles; well, on second thought, there were a couple of those. No, it's more in the realm of a quiet sense of accomplishment I come away with each day as I ascend the trail back to my car.

I started my day early. Up at four, showered, disdained again the task of shaving, threw the oatmeal and raisins together and readied the french press, undoubtedly the best way to enjoy good, strong, black coffee. I cannot even imagine a morning, especially a fishing morning, without my coffee. With all that under control, my thoughts center again on a plan of action for today's fishing. I like to at least think I'm going to a pre-determined area before I actually arrive. Whether or not I end up there is always up for further rumination after I rig up and start walking, but at least having a destination in mind frees me to concentrate on other stuff before I get in the car. I grab the half-dozen soft hackles I tied the night before, and debate sitting down to tie a couple of my classic, lightly weighted ones. A quick check of the box dissuades me from this activity. I call it all good and pack my gear out to the car.

The drive down to the river takes about fifteen minutes on a good day, and today had started, and still seemed, to be one of those. And, I felt it. It felt like a damned good day, but, I've had that intuitive sensation before as I've driven. Those feelings haven't always been realized; the reality often being very nearly the opposite. But today, well, I felt good. Optimistic, even. My son Aaron, the doctor, the fly fisherman, the Iron Man, the ultra-distance running machine, and I have spoken about this. He has spoken of this same sense of well-being, this aura of confidence in the hours before he competes. He goes on to say that this particular pre-race state of mind does not always translate into a successful race. There are so many peripherals involved that may or may not come into play along the way. And, in some ways, an attitude of too much confidence can cloud his mind. It will not then react quickly enough to what his body is telling him. While I don't pretend to compare how much preparation is involved with doing successfully all that he does, what he does, to a day of fishing, I do see the parallels. I do understand the logic, and I have suffered the consequences, albeit not comparable.

But, all things taken into consideration, I still felt pretty good about today.

I stuck with my pre-drive decision as far as fishing locale for this day. As I drove across the bridge the river was invisible, hidden beneath a veil of swirling fog. At this time of year, the dew point here, because of the higher humidity, is just a smidge higher than the surrounding elevations and that combined with the cool pre-sun hours precipitates the misty cloud that envelopes the river. It will burn off soon enough, but I intend to be on the river to snap a couple of pictures before it does.

Into the parking lot. Waders, boots, glasses, fly rod rigged, fly (always start with a soft hackle) attached. I lock the car, double check for keys, and set off briskly into the fog.

It's about fifteen minutes, twelve if I really stride, to my destination for today. I'm heading downstream about a mile or so to a long run that I've purposefully stayed away from for several days. My thinking is that by doing that, the fish have had that many days to recover from my last visit here. That happens to be one of my cardinal rules, too. Never go to the same spot two days in a row. Or even in the same week. Plus, I know that no one else has been here disturbing things, which is probably wishful thinking. I think it anyway. Sometimes I am surprised, but most times not.

The fog has thickened as I gingerly work my way down through the moss-covered rocks. The sunlight filtering through the foggy blanket mutes the colors, turns the river, everything, gray. I pause briefly, debating whether or not to get the camera out now and get those pictures, but the call of the river is loud, appealing, and I easily surrender, strip line from the reel and roll out my first cast.

The hydraulics here are a convoluted maelstrom. The bottom of the river is a hellish combination of rocks, of all sizes and shapes. The currents flowing over and around these rocks are twisted and re-routed, causing uplifts and funnels, downdrafts and eddies. It may be a tortured section to behold, but beneath the surface, because of the rocks, there are many favorable holding areas for what I have found to be some of the biggest trout in this river.
My first roll cast lands my fly some twenty feet out, the line is immediately turned this way and that. I mend furiously, upstream, then down, trying to keep at least a vague semblance of an arc in the line as it is washed downstream, all the while being as sensitive as possible to any difference in feeling in the fingers of my line hand. I love this. I love the mystery of the swing anyway, but add to that the dimension of the swirling currents which make keeping in direct touch with the fly nearly impossible no matter how effectively you mend, well, now this is fishing!

Just as the bends in the line begin to lengthen somewhat, I see the furthest section from me that is still visible suddenly dart upstream. I pin the line and lift the rod, and the pull is strong, spasmodic, and has weight. My ten-foot Sage bends radically, while my Waterworks screams. I feel awesome. Here we go.

Several casts and swing management efforts later, I lift my soft hackle out of the water, examining it for damage. I have not touched a fish since the first cast. Another old adage comes to mind. "Fish on the first cast? Go home, my man, because the gods have ordained that you are through for the day."

As I ponder the significance of this development, I watch a medium-sized Caddis leap off the surface of the water. It gets maybe six inches into the air when lo and behold a trout flies out of water and deftly snatches the Caddis right out of the air. Impressive!
My thoughts at that point went straight to wondering if that was a newly hatched adult, or if it might have been a female re-emerging from the water after laying eggs. We have several models of Caddis hatching here at any given time, and roughly a third of them re-enter the medium from which they emerged from to lay eggs. My guess (probably because I had a pattern I wanted to try and here was a first-class reason for digging it out) was that yes, it was female who was laying eggs, and I now had the perfect opportunity to wet the fly I'd been working on which imitated that very thing. I'd gotten serious for awhile about the idea a few years back and it'd kind of been on the back burner ever since then.

It took a few minutes of intense hunting through my boxes to find it. I had one. Just one. Buried in with my classic soft hackles. The elk hair gave it away, and I dug it out, extended my leader a bit, and rolled it out to the far edge of a set of standing waves...
Every day that I am able to fish is a good day. Some are 'gooder' than others and some are more easily forgotten. Then there are the days, quite few and far between that defy description. This was one of those days. The next hour and a half will live forever in my mind's eye. It was almost an out-of-body experience. Never mind the fact that at one point I hooked fish on three successive casts; that these fish can't possibly be stacked up like this anywhere in this river let alone right here right now, and when have I ever had such a spot-on pattern as this at just the perfect time!

Looking back, I am pretty surprised at how much punishment that fly took. And, it kept hooking fish even though it had long ago ceased to look anything like how it did originally.

I never did get those pictures taken, but it was foggy for quite some time. Guess you'll just have to take my word for it.

I was a little busy.

September 28, 2010

My river. More thoughts.

Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing.
Camille Pissarro

Most of the folks who live in or around the city of Spokane are aware of a river running through town. They know it flows from the east. A good percentage of these same folks even know that it flows out of a lake as it begins it's westward run, although they couldn't tell you the name of that lake. That percentage continues to decline when it comes to knowing where all of this water running through our fair Lilac City goes. Then, slash that number in half or better and you have a decent approximation of the number of people who have ever actually seen it, omitting of course those who visit, or frequent our downtown Riverfront Park and see the river, penned, aesthetically structured, civil, calm, and even, on good days, litter-free.

To be sure, there are a plethora of places in the region wherein one may enjoy a more intimate connection with the river. Among those who care about such things, these areas are well known. They range from carefully constructed viewpoints along some of our 'scenic' drives, to direct access to the water both up and downstream of the 'metro' area. When ESPN comes to town, most often to broadcast Gonzaga University Bulldog basketball games, a gratuitous live shot of Spokane Falls nearly always accompanies the network breaks. And, as our city fathers would have it, it is beautiful. They mandate that lots of water, billowing in its oxygenated, voluminous whiteness, be flowing for those shots. I had the misfortune one sunny afternoon several winters ago to be fishing when they 'opened the gates' for a 'Chamber of Commerce' event. I think if I remember correctly it was for a nationally televised ice-skating championship. Whatever it was, the rising waters isolated me on an island for a few hours. It was almost pitch dark and I was mighty chilled by the time I decided I'd seen the flows recede enough to chance a wade back to shore. I was thankful for my headlamp and the extra heat packs I carried.

While there are some folks in town who have visions for the future of the river, there are many more who couldn't give a damn. There are those who use the river for recreation. Included in this group are those who recreate with respect, and many more who choose to use it both as their own playground and garbage can. There are even those who come along once a year and try to pick up all the crap that the latter group leaves behind. They spend all of one day in an all-out, no holds barred campaign to clean up what the masses of repugnant hordes spent a full year distributing. I am amazed at how much garbage is collected, but as I see it, and I am there year after after year, they are fighting a losing battle. I hate to say it, but the ignorance and disrespect far outweighs the noble efforts of this small, but brave band of river lovers. I count myself as one of them though I do not take part in this annual outing. I do my part every time I go fishing there, hauling out a sack full of litter, retrieving one of Joe Albertson's shopping carts, an old bike frame, or even a stolen and discarded computer, from the river. But the task is daunting, because it seems that with every year the repugnant masses grow in number. I see that firsthand, and I begin to worry that it is by some sort of design that this is occurring. I wonder if some our 'visionaries' are talking out of one side of their mouths while laughing out of the other side. By that I mean I have to wonder if my river has been conceded to the hordes, the thinking here that it's a way to kind of 'compartmentalize' their activity to a relatively obscure, uninhabited area bordering the river, out of sight and hopefully 'out of mind' to the rest of our good populace as well as those money-spending visitors. I know the police are reluctant to patrol certain areas of the river even though they are well aware of the higher incidences of crime having to do with car prowling and vandalism. With that being said, criminal activity is bound to increase in places where there is no presence. I am painfully aware of this, having had my car smashed and pilfered on more than one occasion before I resigned myself to parking in a college parking lot filled with security cameras and patrolled regularly. Makes for some very long hikes, but I'll take it. It's better than fishing with your mind on your vehicle.

I've ranted enough. Nothing's going to change. The repugnant few who are always responsible for screwing things up for everyone else will continue their assault. The river 'keepers' will follow along behind, filling bags full of their droppings. Our city fathers will gather and trade their visions. The city council will ponder this and/or that, and convene panels to study this situation and that. Concerned citizens will write letters and attend meetings. The environmentalists and conservationists will fret about the phosphate levels and the destruction of fish habitat. The state of Idaho will continue to stall on any kind of positive action or legislation that might signal even the slightest inclination to acknowledge their participation in the eventual demise of fishing as we know it on the Spokane River. But, nothing will change. It never does.

What took me however long to type out above goes through my mind in a nanosecond nearly every time I return to my river. And it's not easy to live with. I admit it. I am not sure how long my river can fight the abuse and the lack of positive action.

But then I think of how lucky I have been. How blessed. How resourceful. How persistent. When I first began exploring the river how ever many years ago, how could I have possibly understood the level of knowledge or the joy I would derive from this place. This river taught me how to fish. This river taught me how to think. This river taught me so much more than just about fishing. It was the best therapy in the world through countless turning points in my life. It was my sanctuary. Better than that, it is my world. All things revolve around my ability to get here, to be here, to feel the strength of its flows cradling me. To puzzle, to outwit, to succumb. To be reborn, again and again.
And then, as my fly line arcs again in the current, it occurs to me that, given half a chance, the river will survive. That these waters will hold and grow trout as long as I am able to be here to stand erect in its waters and cast for them. And it will be good. It is always good. It is in the nature of things to be good. And it is always, eternally, only for us who know this to be true.

September 20, 2010

On a Saturday in the rain.

I was trying to daydream, but my mind kept wandering.
Steven Wright

The rain came down harder. I stood and watched for awhile, sheltering beneath a cluster of pines, while the deluge raised a white sheen on the surface of the river below me.

I think we all have madness in us, it's just that I've realized mine and found a way to let it out.
John Glover

The idea had come to me the day before as I made my way very carefully across the river through a stretch of shallow but fast-moving water to an unfished slot still quite reachable given the fact that flow levels have, for the past two weeks, been on the increase.
A sudden movement at my left foot had startled me and I froze, scanning the rocky bottom for whatever it was I thought I'd seen. Thinking I'd probably dislodged a rock as I shuffled along, I prepared to continue on my way when I saw it again. And this time, clearly defined against the pale green algae on a granite slab it hugged, I saw the sculpin.

A sculpin is a bottom fish. It inhabits rivers, lakes, and is also found in salt water. They are throwbacks to a time when we were first emerging from the water. Very primitive in appearance, with spiny scales and fins. Ugly, too. At least that's my impression, although there are trout here, mostly larger ones, who will prey upon them. For those so inclined, they are a delicacy.

Over the years I've fished TDR, there has been enough interest on my part in finding a viable lure to spur a certain amount of time spent at the vise trying to conceptualize and then somewhat faithfully construct an artificial sculpin that would consistently get results. I italicize the word because there have been patterns fished that have provided some success, but most of them remind me of something a friend of mine said after I related to him an experience I'd had with a newly concocted pattern.
"So, you hooked the dumb one...", which, in my mind, although I remained stoic, seemed to be painfully close to the truth. Each new composition would usually
be found attractive by one, sometimes even two, but seldom three fish, at which point said compositions were, after a few more frustrating attempts removed from the box and remanded to the obscurity of the ever-filling OHW(one-hit wonder) glass sitting in an unobtrusive corner on my tying desk. And usually at this point, any further experimentation with or on concepts dealing with the sculpin were also summarily dismissed, at least up until this very recent day when I fairly stumbled on the real thing. That got the juices flowing again. My memory is blessedly short when it comes to failures of this nature, and since it seemed like a reasonable amount of time since my last frustrating foray into experiments along this line, well, maybe it was time again. I had this vivid image in my head of that sculpin and coupling that with the beginning of fall where fish will start looking for more to eat, well, how could I not give it another shot?

So, what you see at the top of the page is what was double-terled to my shortened leader at the end of my type 3 sinking line as I stood there beneath the pines watching the rain pelt the river's surface last Saturday. It's a simple pattern. I took a very elemental approach, not wanting to get caught up in too much detail. I tend, at times, to focus more on that than I need to. So maybe I'm learning? Time, as always, will tell...

I was not at the location where I discovered the sculpin, but that's a no-brainer, at least on this river, because wherever there's really good-looking water (especially right now), there will more often than not be no fish. They're all, save for the occasional territorial loner, pretty stacked up in the safety of deeper, slower water that is less affected by the up until recently scant flows.
And that's where, for the most part, they will remain until late fall's hatches of caddis and blue-winged olives draw them back into the shallower runs and riffles.

The section where I have decided to fish my new concept is deep, close to eighty feet across with a fair a current, and only a short distance downstream from a briskly flowing riffle. It's also attractive because I have room for a backcast, almost a necessity when fishing a sinking line. I say almost because it is possible, with some patient practice, to roll cast this line somewhat proficiently for distance. But today I want to cover as much water as possible, so that's another reason to be here.

In my mind, as I now wade through the rain to a pre-selected grouping of rocks, there are large, fierce, hungry rainbow trout lying in stealth in the depths, waiting for a sculpin to make a mistake and show itself. I will present mine and hope it passes muster.

The rain continues to fall, soaking me, as I strip line from the reel and pull my sculpin through the water. Examining it as it goes, I can't help but be impressed at it's similarity to the coloration and profile of the real thing, but it matters little how I see it.

I start short, working the area closest to me. Just like the books tell you to do. I continually remind myself that there's a reason for this, as I tend to let impatience rule the length of even my first casts. Within me lives this beast who wishes to, whenever possible, push the limits of distance into the next county. I love casting. I dearly love casting a sinking line. It's weight makes it easy to feel the rod flexing, leveraging, and when power of the haul is properly applied, it is a never ending glory to watch as the narrow loop extends out seemingly forever. But, as I stated, I am, at least for now, denying myself this 'evil' pleasure in return for a more mature, practical approach.

There is also the question of retrieval. How do I want to bring it back to me? Do I want to begin stripping at landing? Shortly after landing? During the swing? After?
It occurs to me that there will probably be time to try all of these. So for now, I content myself with moderate casts of what I take to be about fifty feet, and beginning my retrieve after a couple of seconds.

I settle easily into a rhythm as I change the angle of each cast, the rod telling me when to pull, the river telling me when to retrieve, lifting my rod to roll out the line as I begin again, and again. I lose myself for a time in the sheer joy of the mechanics, although I am not aware of them as being such. It is in the repetition, of movement, of feeling, of sensation, from where I gain the deepest satisfaction, and it is here where I will always go to find the most resonant solace which is really the ultimate drug. It is not the first time, nor will it ever, I pray, be the last time I lose myself in the sheer joy of the cast and the retrieve.
And then, in the middle of my retrieve, the line in my hand is pulled back. Hard. Joltingly hard. Then again. And again. The line laying in the water at my feet races out the guides through the eye and into the river, arcing after my sculpin, which is now racing away and downstream from me. I raise the rod tip to the chorus of my reel screaming at my backing knot as it races toward the water.

Directly across the river in the shallows a foraging duck suddenly leaps, squawking, wings flapping, into the air as the water in front of him explodes, spitting a dark-olive rainbow up into the afternoon rain. I watch the fish cartwheel back to the water before realizing that fish is attached to my sculpin which is attached to my fly line which is attached to my reel which is still screaming as backing peels off, only in a different direction! And then, slowly, as if in some sort of delayed realization, the fly line begins to conform to what I am feeling. The fierce, jerking pull is coming from clear across the river now as I watch the line begin bend back upstream to follow the path of the fish as it once again shoots skyward in a spectacular display of power. Still he takes line. I pin the line to the rod, testing its ability to stop him, and my rod tip instantly goes to the water. He refuses to yield. There is, in this fish, an unimaginable amount of power, an urgent need to escape, to survive. Every ounce of its strength, every fiber in its being is directed to this end. I hang on, in awe.

The rain has stopped. The sculpin is back in the keeper, and I just stand there, for awhile, and smile. One strike. One beautiful rainbow, brought to hand. The biggest rainbow I've yet been blessed enough to do battle with. Anywhere. And of all the trout I've ever had the chance to fish for, to tempt, to puzzle over, or to bring to hand, this one will forever bring that single, defining moment of joy. There is no finer way to be humbled than to experience the jolt of that take.

He won. He got me. He stole a piece of my heart. Took it with him as he swam away, back into the depths of the river on that rainy Saturday afternoon.

Maybe some day, after I'm gone, all the pieces of my heart, which are in different places in this river will find their ways back together. Maybe they already have. This is where my heart is. I can think of no better place for it.

September 13, 2010

Reflections on moving water and other things.

I've cried, and you'd think I'd be better for it, but the sadness just sleeps, and it stays in my spine the rest of my life.
Connor Oberst

It was a well placed cast, made even more satisfying by the fact that it had been accomplished at all due to the obstacles presented dare I even entertain thoughts of such a feat. But now, as my Elk hair Caddis drifted high and free down through the convoluted hydraulic, that sense of accomplishment was quickly suspended. The shadows contrasted so sharply with the brightness of the mid-September sun that tracking my fly was more and more difficult as it wended its way through the rocky riffle...

Getting the elk hair to settle at the top of the hook while being securely fastened is a practiced art, and I use as few wraps as possible to accomplish this. No more than four; the lessons learned from years of trial and error still and always fresh in my mind as I work. A tight bundle that sits in its proper attitude on the hook while not flaring is the goal. It is then, for me, a much more viable fly in such a situation as the one I am now presented with.

There are only so many things we can control. In fishing with flies. In life. In my head, this would be a a perfect place to insert a witty quote dealing with the vagaries of learning how to deal with the impact of that reality. But maybe that's not where I'm going with this at all. Or maybe something along the lines of an Eastern philosophy concerned with a real man being able to bend. And not break. Something about rolling with it all...

Halfway through the rocky riffle is a trough where the flow slows visibly. From many past explorations I know this slot is deep. The bottom of the river here is a moonscape of jagged, algae-covered granite. My Caddis rides high in the shadows. I am silent, rejoicing a bit in the glory of simply being able to watch its journey downstream above the algaeous moonscape.

When the sun casts my shadow on the wall above the vise, I am struck for a moment. For a very brief instant I see my father's profile. Or is it my son's. Is it really mine? Of course it is mine, though it does not appear that way when I look away and then look back again. There is a reason, I surely think, that I saw this. I cut off another chunk of elk and comb out the secondaries.
I am about to throw in the towel on this drift. My blonde caddis is rapidly approaching the limit of its rather extended drift. I have done as much as I can to prolong it. But something within me hesitates. Stay the course a little longer. I reach for the fly with my rod tip...

Too little. Too late. I'm sorry, folks, but that's what I'm left with, although the 'too late' part is still up for discussion. And if there is, there better be some dynamite clarity accompanying that, with passion. You're up against the wall now as far as I'm concerned. Time is short, and the clock, as it has for a lifetime, is ticking. I'm a good runner. And I never tire at the wrong time. What is it I hear so often? Finish Strong?

There was nothing left. I could not extend its drift any longer. The joy of the classic cast now forgotten. The last inch of slack straightened. I watched, waiting to see the telltale wake of a tethered fly...

I never saw it. My little blonde caddis suddenly disappeared in a furious boil. Instinct replaced anxiety, and I lifted my rod. Tight. Again. Harnessed to my obsession, again. Reprieve. Sanctity. Freedom...

I walk back along the trail. The setting sun is behind me. And for a the briefest instant, as I walk, I am my father.
Or is it my son?

September 9, 2010

On not writing.

All of us learn to write in the second grade. Most of us go on to greater things.
Bobby Knight

I'm sitting here watching the little vertical line that marks the starting point blink. Telling me I'm ready to write. Hm.

A rising stream of disjointed thoughts flow through; have been flowing through my head. I try to make sense of them, thinking that within this twisted hydraulic there must be some thread of connectivity. And there very well may be although I know, owing to similar occasions in the past, that I will likely spend blessedly little time in attempting to sort them out.

Summers do that to me, a facet of my life that I'm not unfamiliar with. According to some, I spend way too much time fishing and way too little time absorbing whatever else is taking place in and around the rest of my life, which, in the long run, is really much more acceptable, especially now as my years pass. And, I know that when I do look back, the pages of my history will be bookmarked with the glories and frustrations that deal with fish, flies, and moving water rather than that which most everyone else would consider the really important stuff. I'll let them handle all that. They do a much better job at it than do I.

I used to wonder, back when I still had some misgivings about my emerging mindset, why it was that I was lacking the desire to channel more of my energies into the churning grist mill. That is, to me, the daily application of certain behaviors, routines, and practices that so many of us appreciate as daily life. And maybe I don't need to elaborate any further than that, as one could probably very easily discern from what I have just written that I certainly have a misguided approach to what it should mean to live and coexist on this planet Earth, although I still prefer 'careening mudball', and my thanks again to Thomas McGuane for permanently etching that image in my brain. It fits too well and will never be discarded.

I'd be lying if I said that I never give any thought to what is happening outside of my fishing life. Truth is that I, in weaker moments, expend a certain amount of energy doing something that time has so far failed to teach me, or has actually taught me it's just that I seem to have this very human habit of drifting into thoughts of people, usually loved ones, who are either in my life or who have gone, sometimes long gone. I periodically am caught trying to figure out what, if anything, is right or wrong with the current situation and why it is what it is.

And then another author pokes his literary head into my thoughts with, 'It is what it is...', and I smile, maybe brush back a tear or two, silently thank him for his undying wisdom, and grab for my fly rod.

I will never figure people out. Oh, I'll lapse now and again, and spend time trying to do just that. Even when I could be tying another soft hackle, or mending a leader, but it'll happen. I'll be lost in my world, in the hackle of a Caddis, the faces of those I hold close circling above and through me.

And I'm sure they wonder about me, but, there I go again, thinking I understand. Better sit down and tie another fly. Stick with the things I do understand.