2006 will have entered the record books by the time
you read this, and if you are the resolution making
type you may have concocted a list of 'must-do'
things you have resolved to accomplish in 2007.
Personally I avoid the resolution game, not because
there are not things in my life that should be changed
but because I realize that most resolutions made on the
cusp of a new year are rarely realized. Rather than
making resolutions I am unlikely to keep I use the
changing of the year to take stock of where I am,
and make plans for where I hope to go in the coming
By Neil M. Travis, Montana
The start of the new year is a good time to drag out
all your gear and take an inventory. I normally start
by taking out all my fly boxes for inspection. First
I discard the chewed, unraveled, and otherwise unusable
flies, and make notes of the patterns that need to be
tied to replenish those patterns I use constantly during
the year. This process normally results in a time of
reflection on the days I spent on my favorite trout
waters during the past year. Which reminds me that I
spent fewer days fishing than I had planned, and I
should correct that in the coming year.
Fly boxes finished, I then move to the rods and reels.
If you're like me you have far more rods than you ever
use in the course of a typical year. There's an Orvis
bamboo in the back of my rod cabinet that hasn't seen
the light of day on a trout stream in over a decade,
and there is my favorite Leonard, and a couple other
fine bamboo rods that seldom get more than a few hours
of use each year. My work horse rods are a couple
graphite models circa 1990, and two old fiberglass
models from a much earlier era. I remove each one from
its case, wipe them down with a soft cloth, and inspect
the guides, cork grip, reel seat, and overall rod finish.
Satisfied that all is in order I place each one back in
its case to await the coming of my next outing.
My reels usually require my most detailed and time consuming
inspection. First there are the lines that need to be
inspected and cleaned. Occasionally it is necessary to
replace a line, there are leaders to be removed, and
needle knots to be checked and retied as necessary. I
disassemble each reel, check for wear, lubricate as
needed, and reassemble each one.
Finally I get out my vest and go through all the pockets.
I am always amazed at all the stuff I carry, and I usually
resolve to cut back on some of the gadgets but somehow it
all ends back in the vest when the inspection is done. I
am positive that if I remove a certain item that the very
next time I am on the stream I will need it. It's this
kind of rationalization that keeps most of us from ever
throwing away anything.
There are still waders to be checked, rain gear, float
tubes, pontoon boats, and a plethora of miscellaneous
gear that will need to be inspected before my first
fishing trip of the new year, but I normally never
get that far.
Sitting in my fly tying room with my fly boxes spread
all over the table, rod cases stacked on the floor,
and fly reels lined up awaiting inspection I find my
mind wandering. As I open a rod case the smell of a
warm summer day curls around my nose, and suddenly I
am knee deep in my favorite stream with a hatch of
caddis flies fluttering around my head and trout
boiling the water. Then I find myself sitting on a
grassy bank watching the bats skim the surface of
the water in the final moments of daylight. In the
west the flick of heat lighting illuminates the face
of towering cumulus clouds, and the cool air slipping
down the surrounding mountains momentarily sends goose
bumps racing down my arms. Walking back to my car in
the gathering dark I spook an unseen deer in the stream
side willows, and it splashes noisily across the stream
snorting and blowing a warning. As I put my gear in
the suburban from the distance a great horned owl calls,
the first stars begin to appear, and the distant rumble
of thunder reminds me of the approaching storm.
Back to the present I look at the pile of gear that
demands my attention, but before I begin to dump the
fly boxes and service my reels I pause to give thanks
for yet another year. I am thankful for the memories,
the friends – old and new – for the wonders of the
natural world that still fill me with awe. I am
thankful for sunsets tinged with red, for the smell
of distant rain, and for trout streams and mountain
lakes. I am thankful for a wonderful wife, a beautiful
daughter, and for all the blessing that have been
afforded me. Perhaps, by His grace, I shall yet be
here another year taking stock as the old year fades
and the new year dawns. ~ Neil M. Travis, Montana/Arizona
From A Journal Archives