Yeah I could go out and catch some hatchery trout and feel good about myself, and guess that's what I do. They are there, they are easy. They are fun and even slightly satisfying, they reaffirm my belief in myself as a fisherman that I can catch fish. I can fool the stupid. But what about the smart and rare?
Do I really want to fool that winter fish? Do I want to make it think its eating an insect or an egg? Nah, I like to think that they want to play, like they are there to make me happy, and they take something from the jump and run. Like my touch makes them feel alive too. Surely it doesn't, surely that fly punched into the lip of the steelhead makes them afraid, makes them want to run away, makes them want to get rid of me. But there it is, nothing between me and them but a line and a hook and a rod. Simple.
I loved someone once, I loved her with all my heart, and every time I touched her I convinced myself that she was enjoying it, that the hook in her mouth was meant to be, but it wasn't, she got free, she threw the hook, then tormented me by sitting in the hole, letting me watch her gorgeousness, letting me watch her swim free, without my touch. I love her I want to be connected, I want to feel her every move, to love her in a way, impossible among prey and predator. Why do I feel like this? Every fish I've ever lost I've moved on, sure I dream of that 34 inch rainbow up north that I thought was a chum, and that 28 inch mouse eater on the branch. Sure I dream of how my life could have been if she had only found that attraction, if the hook had not been thrown, but this time its different.
I cast and cast and cast, and swing and swing and swing. I could have had her, the wrong way, a good bottle of booze, a helping hand and kiss, would have swayed her, much like a good flourocarbon leader and a sparse comet leads to a perfectly lined sockeye. But I was to good for that, I had to make the perfect presentation, she rose to the dry. Took and I missed the hookset. She darted away but I continued to fish, like a mad man, possessed with the notion. Finally I threw it all at her, I threw that fly in the back of the box, that you laugh at because its the size of most of the fish you catch. You throw, knowing that the fish would spook or eat, and nothing else.
She ran away, just far enough I know where she is, but not far enough I can help myself. I want to fish, I want to catch her, I know spending too much time changing flies, changing ways will not do much. She is put down, not only from dries, but from nymphs and streamers. Its my fault, I should just move, give others a chance, find a new player, find someone ready to take the fly, but its just not satisfying even when I do, even when the fish runs, and I feel the line peel from my reel and chase her down, its not the one I'm after, its just another fish, easy, dumb, ready to take.
I will fish for her, I will, month after month, year after year, I know where she lives, in the hole by the bend, where the sockeye came, in the grease next to the bank, below the power line. In the flat above the sign she will be there waiting, and yeah, others may catch her on the way, yeah she might be hurt, but that's how it goes. I'll be there to hold her, and when she swims away from me, even if she's not happy, I will know that one day I touched her, that I made her tick, that I was the one and she was the one for me.
The nice thing about women is that in the end, maybe when I catch her I won't let her go for others to enjoy, but she will realize that I, and I alone will be there for her and we can live and love and be happy, swimming side by side in the river of time, knowing that flies will drift, and life will happen, but no matter what drifts by we will try our best, regardless of how hard it is. This is why I'm sure love is worth it, it hurts, it bites, but no matter what I do, I'd rather be balls deep in a steelhead stream, freezing, getting skunked not touching a fish than anything else in the world, except being there and touching one. In this world we will love many things, and everything but hatchery trout will make you suffer, the trick is finding those things worth suffering for, and wether it be mountains, steelhead, women or whiskey, its worth it, no matter how hard it is.