The drive from Rapid City, SD to Lowell, ID takes about
14 hours. By the time I arrived, I felt like a cow had
kicked me in the backside and was nearly deaf from
listening to loud music to keep me awake. I drove the
last 70 miles of twisting road in the dark, windows
open to keep me almost cold and well awake. It was
worth the trip.
The fly tying tables in the Rumpus Room are a great idea.
We were able to leave our tying stuff there without losing
anything or worrying about it. I'm always happy to be
involved with a group of honest folks. There is a wealth
of knowledge available in that room to anyone willing to
learn. A lot of learning did occur, and we all grew
because of it. Learning is at least a third of the
reason to go to a Fish-In.
Meeting other people is at least another third of the
reasons to go to a Fish-In. Meeting new people has an
enriching effect on the mind and spirit. You quickly
learn that we are all very different, and yet we are
all bound together by a common theme. It is impossible
to attend a Fish-In without some sort of gain in mind and
spirit. The amount of gain depends on you and how willing
you are to share time with others.
I got to fish with a lot of new people. I made a point
to do that. I met new friends and shared time in the
evenings with old ones. Some of the people I fished with
were fairly new to the sport and others were very skilled.
I am very impressed with the quality of people who attended,
and feel FAOL has the best people reading it that anyone
can find. Old and young alike, we have a fantastic
brotherhood going here. Remember that when the cold winds
of February howl and the shack-nasties start eating away
at you and your bulletin board comments.
I was very impressed with a lot of people, but would like
to take the time to mention one very special person first.
Cole's Uncle Kurt probably impressed me the most of all.
It is rare indeed for an uncle to take the responsibility
for a young person for a whole week, but even more rare
for a person to go so far out of the way to fulfill a
young person's dreams the way Kurt did. He traveled a
lot more miles than I did to make that happen, and I'd
say it was worth a pot of gold to one special young person.
It was special to those of us who observed it too.
There were a lot of people I wish I could have fished with.
Conversations around a tying table or campfire are great,
but fishing with someone is a better look into the soul
of that person. I barely scratched the surface of all
those who attended, and I made a point of fishing with
new people each day. It might take me a decade to fish
with everyone, but by then there will be new faces to
add to the list.
Some of the folks who attended were gourmet cooks. It
wasn't just the great barbecue either. The delightful
delicacies served up by the campfire crowd from a Dutch
oven were impressive and tasty. It's interesting to
learn more about other people's interests and hobbies.
Where else could golfers, black powder gurus, biologists,
PA's, writers, students and more come together under a
common theme? A campfire has ways of opening up insights
that otherwise would go unobserved. And hey, that 'Z' guy
picks a mean guitar too.
By the way, I didn't do all the instructing either. I
got a bit of help concerning a sloppy backcast from one
of the most graceful casters I have ever observed. I
think he was a bit hesitant to say anything, but I'm
grateful he did. I cast fairly well, but sometimes
it takes the observations of someone else to correct
a problem you can't see behind you. I bet my double
haul will be better next year. Thanks Steve Z., for
the observant tip. I accept it with gratitude.
The last third is reserved for the other intangible and
tangible things you gain from a Fish-In and sharing time
with other people. It is comprised of jokes, conversations
over meals at the diner or around a campfire, laughs and
mishaps. It's baring your soul a little and letting
others get to know something about you that otherwise
would be hidden. It's watching a young guy catch a
trout on a fly and knowing you have just observed a
It is watching a guy fill his waders with water in one
slip of a foot, and sharing the laugh after making sure
he is all right. It's the graceful arch of a
well-executed cast, and the backlight on a bent rod
that makes the rod and line glow. It's the red slash
under the jaws of a cutthroat trout and the brilliant
colors of a cold-water fish. It's taking a few moments
to watch a salmon tend a spawning bed, knowing that
nature has a way of tending for itself if we don't
interfere. It's a rattlesnake on a trail where you
wouldn't expect to find one.
It's the smell of cedar and fir mixed with pine, and
the sound of water tumbling freely over a rugged river
bottom. It's the delicate beauty of a deep, glass-calm
pool that only a rugged river can provide, and the
rugged beauty of a place that hasn't been tamed.
It's wild turkeys crossing a campground on their
routine morning walk. It's the puffed neck feathers
of a mountain grouse defending its territory. It's
a smile and warm handshake from someone you just met
or someone you haven't seen for a long time.
For all these and more, I'm grateful I was able to
attend the Idaho Fish-In. My spirit has been enriched
and my faith in mankind renewed by those who attended
with me. My soul has been enriched by a landscape
that was created by a hand that knew rugged country
has a renewing effect on the body and soul. My mind
got a break and that had a good effect on a tired body.
To everyone who contributed to the Fish-In activities,
I'm grateful. I enjoyed meeting each of you. I look
forward to the next meeting, knowing I will gain much
more than I give. It was and is treasure money can't
buy. Until our next meeting friends, God Bless and
take care of yourselves.