Monthly Archives: August 2012

A Letter to My Enemy

I’ve seen your face before. It shows scars from your past well. Well enough that I can see them from across the river. Upon that upper lip, a black scar from years ago, showed an age beyond your own. Possibly a scar that signified a wayward treble hook that dangled behind a flashing treat. Adolescent and naiive, you took the bait, was mistreated, and now you bear the scar for life. A scar of the wise.

In my life I have come across thousands of your kind, thousands that only carry a handful of dispositions. There are the shakers that slosh the surface spitting water every which direction but never really go far. There are the runners that swim upstream at a breakneck pace, frustrating the fisherman with break-offs. Then there are the acrobats, who are tricky at times with their high flying antics, but easily manipulated to net. The stones, who find the deepest current and rest, which cause fisherman to second guess. The flailers, who like getting hooks wrapped around rocks and in weeds while vigorously trying to shake out the hook. With all these, there can be mixtures of sorts, and some more unique than others. Then there is you. In my years, I have never met a fish like you. You showed your power, your arrogance. You knew, and this is the third time we have met. I know that scar, and each time it feels like you want me to see it. Like you want me to know it is you.
I know where you reside, and with your size and stature, you can be dominant over your territory without an issue. You live on the fast side of 20 rock. A rock so-called because of your brutish friends that live in the current break. Not choosing that as your feeding ground, you took to the point side, the first to the conveyor belt of food that deposits behind 20 rock. Safe from fisherman. An impossible drift to achieve naturally. I found a way with a quick double mend and you have found my fly for the third time. I am a glutton for punishment.

The first time, you swam upstream with all of the power of your predecessor, the salmon. You raised your head across the shallows before you found a way to shake my fly. I saw the scar then, as I did today. The second time, I almost had you, ten feet away, you layed on your side in defeat as I pulled you in. I got a closer look at the scar before you shot down into the deep and off with my fly. It was that day I saw your size, an astonishing double digit weight and nearly 25 inches, even that may be an understatement. The third time, we knew each other, we knew our history.

The battle was not epic. It was not one that got my heart racing. I knew it was you when I set the hook. A firm set into a heavyweight, in an instant you maneuvered yourself downstream. Close enough to the surface that my line whistled as it split the air. Enough energy to confuse the novice and buy you time to dislodge the hook. I kept tension against you as you dove to the bottom. Your easiest way out, a place where you knew well that you could apply weight to tire me out. We sat for a minute in a stalemate while I put a near breaking tension upon you. You waited in your comfort zone. Out of nowhere, I felt you begin to rise, out of your own admission, out of free-will. I was confused. Your shape began to take form in the more shallow water, but you swam steadfast, without a stressor, as though my hook were not even there. Your fins cut the surface of the water and I was in awe. You lifted your massive head out of the water like a silent submarine. That eye, that deep, aged, sunken eye looked at me. Like you committed me to memory and marked me as your enemy. A conscious effort was put forth on your part, you knew who I was and wanted me to know. It was that moment of realization when you turned your head to dive back into the abyss, that you showed me again, the scar. Purposefully and dutifully extracting the hook from your disfigured jaw.

One of these days we will meet again.


Late to the Party

It was almost like we had a real plan. The damp highway a deep black, lit up by lonely headlights wandering along its winding route. The fog settled in. A welcoming veil, a daunting, yet epic reminder of the day to come. In the distance, tail lights raced to somewhere. Tail lights I have seen once before. I followed the white rabbit, knowing we had the same destination. The whole time, checking my pocket watch, seeing how late it had actually become. Hearing words from somewhere behind me, “he went that way”

Somehow we had all made it on time as not planned at all. Sanders was missing his coffee cup to fiddle with. Erin was silently preparing, waiting. I “cooked” breakfast. Before not too long, we were off. On a perpetual six mile journey to nowhere, somewhere dreams are born. Somewhere that the three of us had never been. Somewhere between the fine line of life and desolation. The brink.

Sanders had been preparing for the journey by stretching for a month prior to this hike. Erin, a seasoned vet of the high country pressed on like it was easy. I had done this before, maybe once or twice. On the way up, we spoke of life and the people in it, where we were and where we were going, what we were passing. It was another one of those references to life. The hike being the journey, the destination unknown. “Six more miles, right?” All of us knowing it was shorter. Like trying to set all of the clocks forward in your house for the sole purpose of being early to those nagging appointments. It never really works, now we have the all-knowing judge of time in our pockets, the cell phone. For us, this judge was the map. I am not one for map carrying, but Erin is. Sure, you really need one in places like New Mexico, where the path is used once a year by a lonely fisherman and wayward hikers. Here in Colorado, someone is almost everywhere at any given moment. Even with that being said, the map came in handy multiple times.

Erin, The Navigator and our own personal sacagawea, lead us through a shortcut. Sanders also knew about this, something he read in a book somewhere. I remained in the dark. I knew the long route very well and we were far from it. When I saw the view of the opposing side of the canyon, I knew where we were. We had saved a ton of time. Sanders said, “Six more miles to go”.

Sanders was equipped with his ghostbusters pack, two aluminum rod tubes tucked away on either side. Although it was a joke, it was a real life version of a trips fore shadowing. We arrived after our six mile expedition to the lake. Walking around it, we saw no sign of fish and there was a point where I had thought the worst. I looked to sanders and his pack, something was mentioned about ectoplasm. If ectoplasm was a sign that ghosts were here, this lake was thick with it. The ghosts floated in the plane below, unknown to me. Ghosts of a time when Greenback Trout were a mystery gene, confused and possibly mixed with Colorado Cutthroat. A mistake that may be known to humans in a few million years as a precursor to a newly evolved trout. image

Let it be known to the world that I fish with an indicator in the high country stillwater. It’s my way of fishing where the fish are feeding. Generally within that gap above a developing thermocline where the fish and insects can live with ease. Suddenly, after some time fishing a fish decided that my indicator was food. He was very wrong. It was this moment that i realized that there were fish here. My confidence returned.image

Erin was the first, somehow she always pulls it off. She mentioned a soft hackle. I had nothing of the sort in my box. I continued on with the “hatchback”. A cross somewhere between a caddis, bwo, and scud. It paid off. Sanders’ magic bug was a… Well, it was a big dry. We were catching fish. Our trip had paid off. image

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Erin wandered off downstream, Sanders and I followed. We fished to the most weary fish. No magic for me there, but I was still drawn to it. Further down, brookies for days in a clogged stream. Sanders fished below me, Erin above, somewhere in the middle I realized that after being alive for this long, maybe I was a bit late to the party for making friends. Even late in the game, good friends (as weird as they may be) bring out life in the worst times and force you to crack a smile when you need one the most. I stood there next to the creek, fishing to fish I had already caught, smiling.image

My phone doesn’t like linking, check out Sanders at “Up the Poudre” and Erin at “Mysteries Internal”, both amazing writers and great people.