Thursday, July 31

Two hearted and lost love

Do I like Two Hearted Ale because of the way it tastes or because there is a brook trout on the bottle, a story behind the name, and it goes well with tying flies? What the fuck is on the can by the looks like a cross between a carp and a walleye?

          I promised my wife I wouldn't fish tonight.  I'm not really sure why. I guess I thought it was a nice gesture.  A "gas" budget may have something to do with it too.  I didn't fish last night either.  The hex are officially done up here...I think.  But what if they're not?  What if they're about to come off in a shit storm of glorious bugs and even more glorious fish, carelessly getting their fill?  What if there's no one on the entire fucking river system, and the fish are going crazy?  I should be there.  Hell, what if the ONE I lost a few weeks back is sitting in that same spot...the spot I've returned to so many times, waiting, watching, forsaking the rest of the river, even the rest of the fish in the river, for just one more shot at him?  Maybe it was a her.  I wonder if I'll ever lay eyes on him...her...I wonder if someone else will catch him and kill him, or if he'd already been caught and released. Probably so.  He was a smart fish.  It didn't take him long to wrap me around the logs, even well prepared as I was with my 8 weight rod and 10lb tippet.

I wonder if, when they manage to wrap the line around a log, it is a purposeful pursuit to the trout, or if they're just headed home and take a circuitous route to do so, in the process creating a lasting legacy of "the one that got away".  I was reminded recently that these are the most memorable fish, worth more than all else in the cosmic cost scale of time spent and things remembered.  It was only a few weeks ago, and the fish has now achieved legend status in my world. I wonder at his epic size in a few short years. A 20lb brown, no less.  My white whale.

Wednesday, July 30

Letting go of the hex

I live in northern MI.  Everyone thinks the hex are mostly done.  The truth is, they’re not.  Well, maybe as of today they are.  But even last night there were hex on the water, bringing out a few big feeders who are somehow still not stuffed...or at least still not sick of eating the bloody things.

This year has definitely been an exception.  I've been hexing for almost exactly two months.  My wife is running out of patience and may be looking for a boyfriend.  A few nights ago she told me she “feels like she doesn't even know me anymore.”  I've now accepted that most of my days will be a daze, eyelids drooping, slurring words.  I work in a sales job and make my own hours, so our finances are fucked...employer is running out of patience….long story short, it’s been awesome. This is what I live for. Luckily for my sanity and that of those around me the hex comes to an eventual end.

I met a guy on the river last night.  There’s something special about stumbling upon a complete stranger at midnight, in the middle of nowhere, headlamps off, chasing a mutual dream.  Apparently his wife is also questioning the sanity of her former self, who would choose to marry a fly fishing addict.  He said his wife feels like he "doesn't want to spend time with her", which makes me wonder a few things...would I rather spend the night fly fishing than with my wife?  Of course, my statistical probability of getting laid factors into that equation, but I don’t think it holds the most weight.  In fact, I think I’ve noticed that whether or not I think conditions are right for the hex has more to do with whether or not I choose to stay home, or to hit the river.   Does that make me a fish chaser?  At least for the hex season, I think it does.          

In all honestly, the hex hatch encompasses everything I love about fly fishing and everything I hate at the same time.   With large amounts of large fish come larger amounts of people seeking the fish over 20 inches.  I’m in the same boat, I understand,  I’m just in a different river.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love our famous rivers here in northern Michigan.  I just don’t love the crowds. Not because they’re made up of assholes, quite the contrary.  In fact, I’ve found almost everyone I’ve met on a river or on the bank to be wonderful company.   It’s my problem really, not anyone else's.  Whenever I feel the slightest bit competitive about a stretch of river the more my fishing experience mirrors that of a football game and less like what it really is.  “That would have been my fish, he crowded me, he’s trashing the river, spooking the fish, watching my casting form, judging my capability” add infinitum.  

Most of all, the hex has made me question why I truly fish.  See, like most, I tell myself I do it for conflicting reasons:  to seek solace, to seek companionship, to be one with the wild, the rivers, to just get out of the house.  But I fish the hex like I’m bat shit crazy. I’ve “temporarily” taken up smoking again.  I even snub the teen sized fish in fear of scaring away the monstrosity that may be lurking nearby in wait. I refuse to wet a line and search on the off chance of lining the 25 incher that just might be “waiting to feed.”  Since when did I become this pompous douche bag?  Since hex, that's when!  When will I stop?  When the hex stop coming off and not a cast sooner.  I’ve learned to accept it.  It’s the one time of year I really go crazy for those big fish.  Yes I mouse and yes I throw streamers, but i’m happy to catch anything the rest of the year no matter the size. The hex brings out the best and the worst in me.  In all reality, I think it brings out me.

Polishing the Compass

I specifically target trout because it gives me an excuse to create adventures.  Because all at once it allows me to feel like a kid and like a capable adult.

It gives me a reason to triple check my compass route, or to even own a compass for that matter.  It gives purpose to my aimless wandering.  A reason to check my maps, calculate distances between un-named roads that are just as likely to wind up ending at an old fallen down bridge or taper off to a squirrel trail as they are to lead anywhere of consequence.

It affords me the opportunity to not have a not know where I am going, but more importantly, not to care.


               Sometimes i feel like i have a lot to say, sometimes little.  I fly fish.  It gives me purpose, it gives me balance, it gives me headaches and hangovers.  Read it, enjoy it...or don't.  From time to time I may have some great tips, techniques, etc .  If you're looking for philosophical life perspective through the eyes of a fly're in the right spot.   For the truly life changing, I'd recommend Ted Leeson, Thomas Mcguaine, Dave Ames, John Gierach, Robert Traver, or any other number of gifted writers.

      Fishing, fly fishing in particular, seems to be more than a hobby or a passion for some people.  It is who they are.  It's an addiction that courses through our veins, controls many a waking thought, and occupies many a night's sleep.  Like most blogs, there is a good chance almost no one will stumble their way to these pages, but on the off chance a few do, i would again like to say welcome.  My grammar will fail me, my words may not be life changing, but hell...neither one of us are fishing right now, so why not?