June 9th, 2008

The Master of Green Cabin Pool
By Neil M. Travis, Montana/Arizona

In those halcyon days before the world discovered trout streams and fly rods, in those times mourned by many but remembered by few there existed pools and runs whose uncharted depths and wayward currents were regarded as the personal property of a few anglers. Although they had no deed, nor legally written paper which lesser mortals require to provide proof of ownership, among their fellows ownership of certain waters was recognized and honored. Such was the situation that existed at Green Cabin Pool.

Often on my way upstream to water of my own choosing I would stop to regard Green Cabin Pool and to glimpse the master in his element. The pool lay below a grassy hill where in early spring that eloquent ballerina of the air, the Woodcock, would dance before his lady love before throwing himself into the night sky on stubby brown twittering wings to trace his spiral in the sky. Below the hill a cedar bog from whence sprang a small spring where watercress grew thick, and toads and spring peepers filled the night sky with their songs. Beyond was the river flowing dark and deep against the far bank. Here the water ran against a manicured lawn that flowed down like a carpet from the Green Cabin perched on its banks. Now the river paused, and then gathered itself together to flow through a deep run only to break out in sparkling riffles where colorful brookies flashed at fluttering caddis.

Securely lodged against the near bank of the pool was a log lying parallel to the flow and from this natural bench the master of the pool could be found setting in anticipation. Here, like a judge at his bench he sat, his rod laying on the log at his side, a pipe sticking from his mouth wreathing his head in smoke. In rain or shine, even during those brief snow showers of early spring, he could be found there occasionally accompanied by a fellow angler whose good fortune it was to share his bench, his company, and his pool.

As the sun approached the pine covered hills to the west long shadows would creep across the pool, and shafts of golden sunlight would illuminate the still pool giving the water an oiled look, highlighting the subtle currents that mixed and shifted across its expanse. Here and there in mid-current a splash or a subtle dimple against the grassy bank marked the appearance of one of the residents. In the shifting light of evening the residences of Green Cabin Pool would begin their evening rise. From his seat the master would judge the risers for he knew each one like a father knows his children. Tonight they might be eagerly sucking in floating duns or slashing at fluttering, skittering caddis. Perhaps gentle dimples would mark the subtle take of a spinner or tiny terrestrial floating inert on the surface of the stream. On some occasions no fish would show, but the master would keep his vigil until the sun had gone to bed beyond the hills, and then, rekindling his pipe, he would leave his bench for home and hearth.

On those nights when the God of Anglers smiled on Green Cabin Pool the master would take up his position midway down the expanse, and pausing only to bend on a carefully selected fly he would work each chosen riser, his long cane rod flexing easily sending searching casts across the pool. Green Cabin Pool with its deceptive currents, underwater snags, and slick glides did not relinquish its treasures easily, but the master knew its moods and currents well. Sometimes I would linger long enough to see his fly disappear in a swirl of sparkling water, and hear his reel sing that song that all fly fishers live to hear.

On those evenings when the chill of cool winds, misfortune or other duties called me from the stream before the last ray of light had fled from before the gathering dark I would stop on the hill above the pool. From below in the darkening valley I could hear the swish of his rod, hear the splash of a trout to his fly, or see the glow from a match as he rekindled his pipe. Sometimes from far off in the dark woods the sound of a whippoorwill would reach my ears. Smiling, I would depart for home.

Now that was long ago in days only recalled in memories of old men like me. The pool and the river remain, but the master is gone. Gone too are the big golden browns that fed along its grassy banks, replaced I fear by chubs and miniature versions of those trout of yesteryear. The grassy hill is gone as well where woodcock danced. A road now runs there, and people camp upon the once grassy expanse. Some say the master moved away to streams where solitude still remains, and some say he died and is now fishing those streams where you never want for hatches or trout.

I too have moved away beyond the western hills in search of singing reels and rising trout, but once before I moved away I passed close to the stream and the pool. Misting rain was drifting down from dull gray skies, and since it was not far out of my way I drove down to the river above the pool. Pausing on the hill I gazed down into the valley where the pool and the river lay shrouded in the mist. As I stood on the hill the mist parted for a moment and in the hushed quiet of that summer evening I thought I saw ----------, but no for surely he had been gone for all those many years. But wait; was that a reel I heard? The mist closed again over the pool as I stood for a moment watching, and listening to the sound of raindrops dripping off the pine boughs. The mist-shrouded river was clothed in silence. Was that a tear on my cheek or only the rain? I turned and walked back to my car in silence. I've never been back. ~ Neil M. Travis, Montana/Arizona

From A Journal Archives

[ HOME ]

[ Search ] [ Contact FAOL ] [ Media Kit ] © Notice