"The cabin is as green as the grass upon which it sets, and the
forest which surrounds all of it is equally green ..." Quoted from the
very first issue of the original Angler's
Journal. The author continues, "A log
lays firmly lodged in the bed of the
stream. Lying parallel to the flow it
provides a perch where a heron, or a
human, can set and contemplate."
The stream referred to is the main
branch of the AuSable River in northern Michigan. The same green
cabin pool, and the exact log was the beginning of one of life's
great adventures for me.
One warm august evening, which seems like a million years or
so years ago, I sat on that log waiting for the hatch. The anglers
curse — rental canoes (Americanus alumininus) — which had
launched earlier in the day from the canoe rentals upstream had
finally ceased to float past. Most other people were busily engaged
in eating dinner. Finally, the river was quiet.
Sounds from the nearby campground were muted by the
sounds of the river. Only an occasional whiff of wood smoke
reminded me that portable civilization was nearby. It could have
been any one of a hundred streams or a hundred different pools.
But somehow, fate had placed me on that log.
Fifteen minutes or so before the anticipated arrival of the
evening hatch, another angler approached the pool. We had met
briefly before, so we spoke, chatted about the river and the quality
of the fly fishing. It was a different time, a time when courtesy and
mutual respect were more common. We agreed to share the pool
for the evening.
To my fellow angler I must have been a curious sight: tennis
shoes, blue jeans, (no waders) a buggy whip of a fly rod, floppy
brimmed black hat, and a small crooked cigar. (It kept away the
bugs.) Well, my waders really did leak. I would have been equally
wet had I been wearing them, besides the water was not all that
cold, about sixty-five degrees or so. There was no excusing the fly
rod. It was a cast off that had belonged to my ex-husband. Now
that I think of it, so were the leakly waders. No matter, I knew
something about the fish, brookies and browns, what the insects
were, and I could cast just barely well enough to get my fly where
it needed to be. Most of the time.
My companion for the evening was better equipped. As we
began to fish to the rising fish, I noted that he cast very well.
Darkness set in, and after the last riser was caught and gently
returned to the pool, we walked back up the hill together to the
campground. I don't recall the conversation, except he mentioned
there was a pot of coffee on the fire.
One year later we were married on a grassy hillside a short
distance from Green Cabin pool. Our attendants held up crossed fly
rods as we walked forward to take our vows. The judge that
married us had to be forcibly hauled out of the river to perform the
ceremony. He was a fly fisher, and there was a hatch in progress.
All of that was nearly twenty-five years ago. Now the coffee
cup sets next to my computer, and I have not seen the pool in
many years; nor do I plan on returning to it. Like the water which
flows through the lovely Green Cabin pool continuing toward its
destination, our lives flow ever onward, carrying us to new places,
Now we reside on the coast of Washington. Our angling is much
different here. Streams flowing to the ocean have few resident
trout, and fewer insects. Our targets now are salmon. The rods are
bigger, and the flies are huge in comparison to the delicate dry flies
I love. The angling is different but the exercise and principles are
the same. One learns to read the tidal flows much like reading the
currents and eddies of a river.
Fly fishers are connected by a common thread. It's the flow,
whether in rivers, streams, lakes or oceans, that connects us all to
each other. We share an understanding, mostly unspoken, and
rarely written. Some call it corporate memory. We know how
certain things were, what we saw and heard, the scent of certain
places, and how we felt. They can be recalled at will, as can the
people who shared those experiences with us. The memories are a
continuous part of us and we of them.
That understanding rises from a common frame of reference.
Our love of fly fishing has nothing (well, maybe a little) to do with
catching fish. The flies, meticulous and beautifully dressed, are tiny
jewels that adorn our endeavor. The elegant rods and incredibly
machined reels are tools, enhancing the quality of the fishing
experience. Without the experience, they are all things — not
without merit, but sadly lacking in meaning.
What is this experience we share? Is it the places where trout
are found? Knowing where the trout will be? Learning the insects
and their habits? Is it the challenge of outwitting the fish and
conditions? Is it matching the hatch or timing the feeding pattern?
Is it precise casting, perfect presentation or flawless mending?
Although you and I may not have fished the same waters, as
long as we remain fishers — either in fact or spirit, we share two
common bonds. The first is pursuit of knowledge. Fly fishing
requires learning. Gratefully no one will ever know it all. There is so
much to learn and do that one lifetime is hardly enough. A
willingness to learn, to keep an open mind, transfers to every
other aspect of our lives.
The second, and most important bond, is hope. Each new day or
stream or fish re-establishes us.
The pursuit of fly fishing recreates the very best in each of us.
It is hope that allows us to carry on in our day-to-day lives. The
doom and gloom pessimist is not a fly fisher.
It is hope that keeps bringing us back, time and again to the
common essence of our being, to our very own "Green Cabin Pool."
~ The LadyFisher
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