Spring, for me anyway, always brings wondrous new hopes
and visions of things to soon come. Things not even imagined,
but yet, understood by my heart. Sights and sounds, places
and people and happenings. Events of the future A future soon
to be grasped. I love spring and look forward to it during the
developing months harbingering it.
And then it is all too soon spent. Poof. What happened? Where
did it go? Did it happen? Did I not see it develop and take shape,
materialize? Did I taste it and smell it and feel it and hear it? Did
I like it? But, now it's summertime. Of that I'm quite sure. One
could hardly miss summertime; hot, muggy, bright sun. The sounds
and smell of the hot days that cling to the evening and won't let go
until midnight. Summers are all alike. And then comes fall.
You know what fall is. It is the real thing. The actual season that
follows Indian Summer. It is a complete change of everything.
Temperatures. Sky color. Day length. Night coolness. Everybody's
activities. Work, school, jobs, recreation, sports, hunting, fishing,
loving and living. It is a time to go the other way on the equinox.
What came, now goes. What is now, changes. I am always confused
by fall. So was my father, he was born on the first day of fall and we
would always discuss it.
Baby ducks which had been born in the spring and have now grown
to flyable size would lift off in the morning and head for a picked over
corn or wheat field only to get themselves blasted to smithereens by
my father, myself, several close relatives and a few thousand Mississippi
flyway shot-gunners as a natural ritual of fall. Duck hunting. Legal. Normal.
Family tradition. Baby Pheasants fell heir to the same fate. We killed them.
We ate them. Deer hunting did not happen in our family until I took it up
on my own. Then I did it too. Shot them and ate them, both with the gun
and the bow.
Fly fishing for salmon developed in the Great lakes and I was there
with a few hundred thousand others. The fish would return in the fall
to spawn and could be found lurking about in estuaries of their natal
streams and drivlets of water there they had been deposited as fly. They
now return to spawn and die. Was it considered sporting to catch one
while it was on a fish bed and in the actual act of spawning? Of course
not. If it was only a foot away and you were not sure if it was going to
spawn, or about to, or just had, or maybe would tomorrow, then was
it alright to catch it? Certainly. Catch it: heck snag it. That idea lived a
As for me I stayed with methods more often considered fishing than
gathering. Of course there was trout fishing in the fall and it was the
most inspirational. A spawning Brook Trout is about the most colorful
creature God ever painted. A brookie looks great all year, but only in
the fall does he seem to get a fresh Simonize job and take on an attitude
that the ladies can't seem to resist. He saunters about the side seams
of his stream like a lad in a zoot-suit, a man of leisure hanging around
a lamp post on a Saturday evening, gold tooth twinkling in the gleam
of the blinking neighborhood lights.
He heads up the small alleys, noses into the tiniest of possible haunts.
Cool water lures him from the hot summer waters he has endured.
I know for a fact that the small creek and spring he now enjoys will
be gone next year. Slated for sure destruction by development. A mall
is coming soon, late this fall to be exact. Parking lot, big shopping center.
The nuisance spring that feeds him his cool water now will be blown apart
and be no more. If he does spawn his fertilized eggs will never survive
and if they did there would be nowhere for his young to return to anyway.
With measured skill and patience I lay down a perfect presentation
of a tiny dry fly. He rises. ~ James Castwell