The rod bent uncomfortably as two excited sets of eyes watched the oversized brown shake his head in disapproval. Unfortunately for me, the rod I carried rested comfortably idle in my right hand, line and leader drifting somewhere downstream. I hadn’t even brought my net.
The brown made one last hard charge towards cover and deeper water, trying to release itself from the “Dungeon” that pinned him harshly to foreign bonds. But as quickly as he was hooked, he relented in a pile at the bottom of the only net between us, Jake’s. I looked at the giant trout and took a mental note to buy a larger net, preferably one with a longer handle, and one that I would remember not to leave in the trunk. Good thing one of us knew what they were doing.
“Holy shit,” I said softly, watching Jake tail the fish and lift him proudly from its cradle. The look on his face confirmed my words. Making me feel better, not wanting to tip him off as to the size of fish I’m used to catching. But one look at the crazed smile on my face would reveal the truth, it was unavoidable. I couldn’t help it, it wasn’t even my fish.
|Yep...the trout in question|
I met Jake a couple months back at the Elkhorn Flyshop in Loveland. He was conducting a fly tying demo, trying to show a few of us weekend warriors the “go to” patterns for the Big Thompson, Poudre, and beyond. Something he has wired, but something I’m in the early stages of trying to figure out. Needless to say, he had my attention. We talked briefly after he was done, and tentatively made plans to fish one of the local waters when we both had the time. It’s the kind of thing you say in a fly shop, but understand if it never happens. Not unlike passing an acquaintance on the street and saying, “let’s grab a beer sometime”, only to leave and go your separate ways. But we stayed in touch, and a few months later, we found a cold river waiting for us on Super Bowl Sunday.
Cars passed quietly as we strung our rods. Four rods were rigged, two for each of us, streamers on one, with the little stuff on the other. I was hoping to throw streamers most of the day, if for nothing else than a way to stay warm. But most likely we would fish both hard, trying to figure out which way the proverbial wind was blowing. I just hoped it wouldn’t take too long. My fingers were cold.
There was a time in my life, not too long ago, that ending up in Colorado seemed unimportant. I did after all, turn down a golf scholarship to my newly adopted city’s University in order to stay closer to home. Opting for colder weather, a shorter golf season, and the friends that seemed to make this whole thing turn, I didn’t even own a fly rod. And as the confidence of youth showed in some of my decisions, not knowing the future was as comfortable to me as any barstool in St. Paul. But hindsight allows for that kind of romance, the kind that lets you ask what could have been. But I was unapologetically happy not knowing who I was or where I was headed. No wonder I ended up selling produce, or giving financial advice, or now, selling office equipment that no one seems to want. But as it turns out, life isn’t about looking back. It’s about finding something you love, pursuing it hard, and accepting who you are, not the guy that you think you need to be. It’s just too damned short. And looking at Jake, I’m reminded that life was never meant to be quite so complicated. Decisions are meant to be easy, kind of like deciding to go fishing, instead of watching the commercials on the biggest ad day of the year.
The thrust of the heavy trout’s tail kicked water into the air, a final act of defiance as the tired brown slipped deep into calmer water, trying to reassess what had just transpired. The bend in the net’s basket was still bowed deeply, leaving an imprint that seemed appropriately frozen, either by temperature, weight, or time. And with a smile and a fist bump, we kept fishing, just like we were supposed to be doing.
*Check out Jake's blog at Fins on the Fly. It is a great blog to follow, as it hits everything from tying flies, fishing adventures, videos, and anything else fly fishing related. Jake is as nice a guy as you could ever hope to meet, on or off the water. It was fun to watch and learn some new tricks, proving once again that age has nothing to do with knowing what the hell you are doing.
|I couldn't let you think Jake caught the only fish...|