WHAT'S IN A TRIP?
It’s finally here, even if it’s not exactly “here” yet. I’m talking about spring, which leads into summer. It has been a rather lengthy winter for much of the Country. If you’re like me, cabin fever set in about November and is just now starting to subside a little after a short fishing trip or two.
For me a short trip is defined by a quick jaunt to my local stream. There are a few reservoirs around here that would also qualify as a short trip, but I won’t be making those trips until just a little more ice has melted.
What I’m really looking forward to are the longer road trips to a few fish-ins I plan on making this year.
The first one will be to the Central Washington Fish-In. I desperately wanted to get there last year, but it just wasn’t in the cards. I tried to make the Idaho fish-In, but I had a funeral to pipe at. I still made it, but I was a day late and a dollar short. On the bright side, I did get to catch my first ever west slope cutthroat trout while fishing with Ron Eagle Elk and his beautiful bride, so it wasn’t all bad. The second one will be the Montana Fish-In that is in West Yellowstone at Campfire Lodge.
Fishing trips hold a pretty special place in my world. I love to travel, so they fulfill that little niche for me, but more than that, it’s the people and the total experience that I crave most.
My trips start long before I actually leave on them. Somewhere, someone planted a thought in my mind, and it grows into a tangle of thoughts until I just can’t stand it anymore, and make up my mind that, “I’m GOING!”
Then there’s the research on hatches if it’s trout water, or bait and game fish if it’s saltwater. Then comes the fly tying; I usually start with a brand new fly box, just for the nostalgia of breaking in something new. Oh, my lordie can my mind work me into a blubbering lump of worthless fisherman by the time I get done filling the said box. I wish I had actually caught a hundredth of the fish I dream about catching while tying flies. I can almost always see a perfect presentation to a big nose poking out of water, gulping whatever insect I’m trying to imitate. I’ve literally spaced off for over 10 minutes in the middle of tying a fly while imagining the fishing.
After the flies are tied I start packing. This process can take six months or more! If I’m really excited about a trip I’ll have my fly fishing gear and bags packed for months and waiting in a corner somewhere so I can just grab it and go. Of course it’s never as simple as that. I usually end up checking and re-checking, unpacking and re-packing, inspecting flies, leaders, everything, all the while daydreaming about the fishing. Okay, I’ll admit it; I air fish too, like playing air guitar, but with a fly rod. My wife has given me that look, the raised eyebrows/worried look, the one you get just before she mentions the local asylum.
And when the time finally draws nearer, oh man, I don’t think I can even begin to describe the excitement I feel, so I don’t think I’ll try, but it’s definitely palpable. On the day of departure I might as well plan nothing because I’m pretty worthless until I get on the road, and forget about sleeping the night before.
I get even more excited just before I leave which usually lasts about a hundred miles until I settle in to the driving, and then the last hundred miles or so I’m pretty useless again. The radio is usually blaring with some rock and roll, windows down if it’s warm enough, and I’ve never met a gas station attendant I didn’t like.
I love the feeling of, “I’m here.” I think I even get a little dizzy, but I don’t know if that is a result of the sudden lack of motion after several hundred miles of driving, or the sudden rush of blood to my head after I first see the water.
From then until I leave, life just can’t get any better. I’m fishing water that I’ve dreamt about for heaven only knows how long, and I might even have caught a few of the fish that I’ve been dreaming about too. And if I’m at a fish-in, I’m telling stories, swapping flies and getting to know some people I’ve posted to on occasion. It’s a delightful symphony of fantasy and realism, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
By the end of the trip I’m usually completely worn out, and it’s almost a relief to pack up and head home…almost, but not quite. The drive home is usually a little slower, and the music is also a bit mellower, but my mind is just as distracted by all that I just experienced.
So, if you've always wanted to go to a fish-in, I urge you to start planning now. If you can't make one this year, plan for one next year, and then let me know if I'm alone in my excitement, or if we are one, united in travel somewhere out there in the cosmos.
I’m leaving for Central Washington on Thursday, May 19th; I’ll get there the 20th. I wonder if there’s anything else I need to pack? Better go check, just in case.