Most days on average though, yield a healthy amount of fish after the proper amount of persistence. You as an angler approach the river armed with diligence and adjust accordingly. Much like Rust Cohle digging through a never ending unsolved crime, we plot, prod, and pull at that ever so intricately woven ball of yarn that is our river-bred rubix cube…. Only ever so often do we pull the correct strand of thread that yields the forbidden fruit of our desires. After all, your addiction has garnered at least a novice amount of knowledge, and if that doesn’t work, you're stubborn enough to keep at it and in the end are able to at least force a few fish into submission. That is to say, you don't have a give up bone in your body and a long drive home without one to hand isn’t permissible, whether they come willingly or you need to dive in and choke ‘em out. By day’s end you depart satisfied and maybe even toast a victory PBR on the tailgate of a beaten down pickup. A cheers to the day and all that led up to it. These days can be just as fulfilling as the aforementioned glutton-fest, if only because in America good old fashioned, blue collar hard work paying off is something we’ve been taught to admire and respect… Dammit.
There is however, another type of outing that unfortunately ends in a totally different manner. These ventures can result in a plethora of obscure happenings, none of which were the goal from the day’s onset. Yes, perhaps you spent the day bushwhacking through miles of brush before finding a handful of targeted high alpine lakes to be sterile. Or perhaps a different hair up the ass prompted you to walk countless miles through ankle turning cow pastures only to stare into an empty inlet with zero signs of lake run brownstones. Other fall outs may include introducing waders to a barbed wire fences, burning out your radiator on your way to a slob-fest, or rolling down an incline more cliff-like than hill-like, bolstering a robust population of rugged outcroppings. These adventures unequivocally end in torn waders, broken rod tips, lost gear, sore joints, and perhaps the most painful, bruised egos. It’s in these moments I find myself staring off into the metaphoric cloudy sky and asking myself, “What am I doing? Is this really worth doing time and time again?”
I reflect on these times if only because it's that time of year. Over the last 300 or so days I’ve experienced the entire spectrum of fly-fishing experiences. For that I feel lucky. It started with some down right dumb nymph days in the spring, transitioned into some of the best streamer fishing I have ever had through the summer, and ended with the always enjoyable brown trout of fall. I even had the privilege to enjoy a few incredible dry fly days with clients on the small water. In between though, I experienced those moments that leave you scratching your head wondering if there are any fish in the river… And in turn, if there really is a reason you chase these creatures so adamantly. My yearly journey to the local fly shop to stock up on tying supplies is done and I have over 3 dozen streamers ready for the final step before they invade an already jammed bugger barn. It’s not that I won’t fish because I probably will more than I anticipate by next spring, but there aren’t any trips lined up and that’s always hard to swallow. The snowy season makes it become more of an “I'll go when I can and lust for the spring when I can't.” Yes, that fifth season, February, really can’t come soon enough. It’s not smart to wish life away, but the melancholy feeling in the back of my mind circumnavigates all that’s logical. Through all the thick and thin though my reply consistently remains the same, "Yes, it’s worth it. Without a doubt.” The experience is always worth the price of admission, and hell, if you don't catch any fish, as cliche as it sounds, you really do need to enjoy the scenery, company, and simple art of casting a fly. If only, because at this time of year those memories that keep you looking ahead to more of the same. I can almost feel the two-thump pause of the pulse vibrating between the cork and palm before setting the hook on that first hopper slow roll next August. Cheers.