Last night I stayed up all night, for no particular reason, other than love of music, and sharing with a friend, music, photos, stories, also I wanted to be up at sunrise to do some steelheading before work. I went out side as the sky was getting light, and without ceremony turned on my car, which started (good day!) and drove out the road. I arrived at the system that I was assured there were at least three fish in (probably lies) and rigged up. This is not your classic steelhead water, this is a little teeny creek, with a slough and a lake at the mouth. The slough moves about the walking speed of a slug and has dark almost black water, which is impossible to read. It moves so slow, swinging takes the patience of a blue whale trying to find a mate. I swing and step swing and step, cast to things that look like they might be fish. Snag roots, swing and step, swing and step, swing and step. Today there is no joy of screaming reels, chrome steel. No breaking down in shivering silence after watched the fish power away from your loose hand as you collapse in the joy of the moment. None of that will happen today. Today's joy will be more subtle, today's joy stems from the birds of spring. Warblers, kinglets, thrushes, sing at the top of their lungs, mallards quack as you approach their section of the slough. Two geese noisily defend their nest, a woodpecker taps a street sign to be as loud as possible. Skunk cabbage squeaks as you step on it, salmon fry pimple the surface, only to be interrupted by a vicious attack by a trout. The sky turns pink as the sun rises in a sucker hole, mist rises from the forest.
Spring is here, joy is found.
I walk back to the car and decide to catch a dolly or two at the mouth of the creek. I drive to the pond which is exploding with life, fish breaking the surface everywhere. I can't bring myself to cast in the salt with this many fish up here, I hurriedly drop the tube in the water without checking the pressure. I kick out in my tube that feels like I'm sinking. Cast strip, strip, strip, strip, hookup... If only women were this easy. I freeze my butt off for half and hour bring five dinks to hand and call it a morning, time to go to work.
Work is a day of alternating between checking facebook, counting people, surfing the internet, playing guitar, and selling people gatorade. Finally I get off and take a nap, I doze off watching an NHL playoff game, and wake up to nobody at the desk, and begrudgedly start helping people again. Finally my coworker comes in, I make a phone call, find a fishing buddy for the evening tide.
Twenty minutes later J is sitting in my car smiling, non resident one day license in pocket, hip boots on the floor. We drive all the way to the end of the road, not really because I think the fishing will be good but because I want to talk to her. This woman is unlike the others, special, yeah I'm really into her, but its not that simple. She is moving home soon, great you say, then you don't have to see her later. The thing is I want to see her, I don't really care about the rest of it. I don't have to worry about all that tonight, tonight we are going fishing. We park and I see fish in the cove, anadromous dollies, the big ones that leave the lakes first are busting fry right and left. Its how I imagine a striper blitz is. I can't help but cast. I hook up fast, big wakes follow my fly, strip strip strip bang. The fish don't fight hard, its a rare dolly you must put on the reel, but they are spirited and after a long winter well they are great. I turn my attention to J, who is just learning. I try to teach the best I can, offering the same tip a ton of times, at least I don't have to yell "mend" every ten seconds. She's not catching fish, she needs 10 more feet on her cast and a better stripping pattern. Meanwhile a buddy of mine has come to the same spot to fish himself, he keeps his distance for a while but his guide instinct kicks in too and he starts offering advice. Quite frankly I'm happy, if you've tried to teach a girl you are interested in or dating how to fly fish you'd know, its better to let someone else. The fish are going off real close to shore now, just off the boat launch, in a deep hole that the ramp is dug into. E hightails it over there and tells J to do the same, she starts walking, leaving her fly in the water. Bam! The fish takes she strips it in, like its a little fish, I tell her to keep the tip up, let him run if he wants to. Meanwhile E has accidently killed a dolly, and offers it to us for dinner. I accept, these fish are very abundant, keeping one won't hurt anybody, especially if its gonna die anyway. J meanwhile is fighting this fish, somehow keeping tension on the barbless hook, we steer it to shallow water and I lift it up for a photo. The biggest fish of the night, an honest 18 inch fish and fat.
I give her a brief hug, reminding myself not to kiss her, we aren't dating, don't ruin the moment, and just enjoy.
E cleans the fish he killed, J having never seen a fish gutted watches in fascination while I catch a few more dollies. As the sun goes down the hands get numb, and we turn to leave. Sky, deep bluegray as the light leaves for the day. We drive home in mostly silence J looking at the mountains and the water in the faint twilight, me watching the road, fighting the urge to hold her hand. Now is not the time for bravado, nows the time to be happy for what you have, and who you are with, and the fact that you feel alive right now, and not reach for anything more. We get back to the university's housing complex where we both live. Eat homefried potatoes and dolly varden, I show her how to tie some flies for bluegill back home, and we part with a hug.
Today's joy isn't the screaming run of a steelhead, its not the ecstasy of sex. No today's joy is simpler than that, easier to obtain but just as satisfying. A sunrise and a hug.[/report]