Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Big Fish, The Little Fish, and the Ones That Got Away

As 2009 draws to a close, I reflect on my fishing for the year, and think about the trips to come. This is not a task that I feel I need to do. I went fishing, I caught some fish. I didn’t catch nearly as many fish as I would have liked.
In June, I had the opportunity to fish Hot Creek Ranch. A private ranch, it is the kind of place that galls fishermen who think that there should be no private waters, no hotsy totsy place set aside only for the fishermen who can afford it. I agree with them, but as long as I can afford it, I will go. Not because I catch lots of big fish, although I did enjoy some of my best fishing during that trip. I don’t catch very large fish, although there are many in that little stream. No, what happened this year is what always happens on that little stretch of spring creek. I am humbled.
I don’t particularly like that.
But it provides some good fishing stories and lots of memories. And the expectation. Maybe next year I’ll do better, maybe next year I’ll tie my surgeon’s knot better, so that perfect drift leading to an aggressive take won’t result in a broken leader that, upon inspection, broke at the knot. Maybe I’ll learn how to make delicate presentations with the wind that blows almost the whole day in that high prairie east of the Sierra and west of the Great Basin. Maybe I won’t panic and pull straight back on the rod as I sit there at the apex of the little ox-bow of the stream, and lose some monster that unexpectedly chose my offering.
It’s been a hard year for many of us. But the promise of a fish pulls me, makes me look forward to the wonder, the beauty of the stream and the fish. Maybe I’ll do better next year.

© James Webb, 2009

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Conversation With The River

The river flows constantly
quiet in its movement
never stopping never ceasing,
soft autumn sunlight bouncing
off its surface.
She sits by the bank,
says there’s a mouse
but really it’s a gopher.
We talk about nothing much
watch the river move
wondering if the salmon really come
to this place so far from the ocean.

© James Webb, 2009