As another fishing season races to a close and another year
is about to end, I find myself looking back and counting my
blessings. I didn't get to fish as often as I would have
liked, but I did get to fish, and the opportunities I did
have were blessings. As I recount this year, and rejoice
over the blessings I'm thankful for, I want you to join me.
Thanksgiving Day is coming up in a couple of weeks. What
blessings that you enjoyed this year are you thankful for?
Maybe we should start a string on the bulletin board or
something to allow each of us to pass on our blessings to
the rest. I'll start the idea by sharing my thoughts here.
We had an unusually warm winter, but a cold spring. I didn't
get a fly line wet before April. It was then that I realized
how short my arms had grown over the winter. For the first time
in my life, I couldn't focus close enough to tie on a midge
imitation. After a few dozen stabs at the hook eye at arm's
length, I managed to get the fly tied on, but I didn't change
flies very often. A curse? No. I'm still blessed with good
vision at distances where my fly floats. Just getting out was
a blessing. (By the way, I now have HatEyes magnifiers to fix
the short arm problem.)
I got out another evening in early May. Nothing fancy, just
a couple of hours on the stream in town. I hooked some fish,
tried out a new fly line, and tried to coach my rusty reflexes.
There was a sparse caddis hatch, but the fish wanted midges.
I did well with a Fall Midge Emerger, but the other fishermen I
saw were cussing their luck as they flogged the water with caddis
imitations. It's a blessing to be able to spot the less visible
hatch and capitalize on it.
Memorial Day weekend was the first real warm weekend of the
spring. I helped my brother-in-law work on an addition to
his house. I do all his wiring (a former occupation and
military skill), so half my weekend was spent snaking wires
and installing fixtures. The other half of the weekend was
spent chasing bluegills and bass, and taking pictures of
caddisflies and bees. I'm not sure which activity I enjoyed
the most, but if you read my series on macro photography, you
saw some of the caddis pictures I took. It was a blessing
just getting out and enjoying nature.
I put a new WaterSkeeter pontoon boat to the test on my annual
trip to the Bighorn in June. The water was low, the days were
hot and fishing was tougher than normal, but I caught plenty of
fish. Sharing quality time with friends on a favorite river is
a blessing anytime. Running a river in a pontoon boat as nice
as the WaterSkeeter River Tamer Deluxe is an extra flower in a
bouquet of blessings such a trip provides. You never forget
trips like the one we shared this year. As a bonus, I managed
to buy some Patagonia breathable waders at less than half price
on a closeout at the Bighorn Trout Shop (one of our sponsors).
Who can complain about something like that?
Our summer was very hot and very dry. Record drought and
heat took its toll on our water, wildlife and land. Favorite
bass and panfish ponds dried up. Some favorite trout streams
went bone dry. Forest fires set records in numbers and
intensity. Homes, pets, businesses, property, resources and
lives were lost to the flames. The blessing is that we didn't
lose more. The grass was burned right up to the steps of some
homes that were saved by the determined efforts of local
firefighters. At least one of those firefighters is a regular
visitor and reader here at FAOL. No one can guess the number
of homes and lives that would have been lost if not for the
efforts of the volunteer fire departments that protect the
people of the Black Hills.
The silver lining on this dismal summer was the day I got to
fish with Paul Dieter. It was hot, the smoke of a destructive
forest fire was thick in the air, and concerns for evacuated
family members clouded the otherwise sunny day. We caught fish,
we shared jokes and stories, we had a great day, and we went
home early to check on loved ones in exile at a local hotel,
awaiting news on whether their home had been spared the flames.
The homes were spared, old friends became good friends, and we
all finished the day with something to be thankful for.
Last week I got to fish with an old friend and his wife from
Wisconsin. What a beautiful day! It was unusually warm and
calm most of the day. We didn't catch many fish, but I don't
think that hurt the day at all. We were there to enjoy each
other's company in the rich colors of autumn. I was fortunate
enough to catch them on an old wooden footbridge and snap a few
pictures. One of those pictures will grace their Christmas cards
this year. As always, fishing with old friends is a blessing.
So, as you can see, I have plenty to be thankful for. I have
friends and family to share the blessings of life with. Autumn
rains have replenished local streams and fishing will eventually
return to normal. The forest will slowly recover, and as it
does, the wildlife will enjoy a new lush environment that will
sustain them well. As with all trials in life, this summer has
made us stronger. I have plenty to be thankful for. The
photo below shows just a few of my blessings.
What are you thankful for? ~ AC