I've been laid up with health problems and haven't left the house
for a month or so, except to see the doctor. This is not a big event
at this time of the year, since the local still water has an inch or two
of ice on It. If I could make it to the river, I know I would find few
rising fish to tempt me into prospecting for those winter warriors.
When it's so cold that my nose and feet would freeze and my fingers
wouldn't tie on a new fly I can tell its time to fish further south. Those
who enjoy fishing when the guides on the fly rod freeze shut are real
strange. I suspect they socially interact with the characters in the new
movie 'Scream 3.' Never invite them into your house for a drink. It
would be like having the IRS prepare your tax return.
Winter is the time of the year when we prepare for the next season. It's
also the time when we meet and commiserate with each other about the
past season. A synopsis of last seasons failures that we can't seem to
forget. The old hands never seem to discuss their successes, just their
short-comings. Maybe fly fishermen are doomed to dwell on their failures.
At one time, one of us must have angered a particularly nasty fishing god.
How else can one explain all the effort we expend for so few results?
Police personnel, after a particularly ugly event, will get togther at the
local law enforcement watering hole and try to shake some sanity back
into their lives. When I was in the military after a real bad mission we
would get together with those who survived at Madam K's and try to
resolve our tensions. Beer 33 was cheap.
Each major town has a meeting place where prosecuting attorneys and
defense personnel discuss the days bad events and make the deals for
tomorrow. I suspect the Fly Anglers On Line Chat
Room serves the same function, a cry about last seasons failures
and a hope for the next seasons successes. A promise to meet in the
spring and some hope for a better year. Youth is seldom involved in
these discussions, as they never see a limit to their season.
I tie more flies than I will ever use or give away. It seems that they
breed like mosquitos, mediocre flies in small boxes, destined to remain
in my possession until my family gives them away after my demise in
garage sales to bait fishermen. What else can I do with my winter?
This week my 97 year old mother, who fishes with me every other
week all summer long, had some electrolyte problems and was admitted
into a hospital seventy miles or so from here. I spent the week sitting
with her, just trying to make a bad experience better. Bad feet, sick
mother, out of town relative imposing on local family members, an
unsightly week. Mother resolved. It may be some time before I do.
Each day at 8:15 AM I watched the local ducks and geese fly into the
partially melted decorative hospital pond. The hospital room had a big
window and I would drink my coffee and await their flight. My mother
slept late and never saw them. The last 2-3 days I parked by the pond
and watched the ducks and geese arrive. My day was made even before
I saw my mother.
Some things tend to re-vitalize those who fish with the fly. The hope for
an end to winter materializes with the first sight of those southern
commuters. Migratory birds make my day. Today urban ducks and
geese no longer migrate south. I still see spring when I observe ducks
and geese flying past my window.
Fly on. Old rupe needs all the help he can get. Even if ducks and such
are no longer the harbingers of spring as they once were, the sight of
those wild beauties precludes a necessity for Prozac to make it through.
I saw a Robin yesterday.
Some of us don't survive the long winter. Those who do should just
Think of me when you tie on your first fly of the season. I will be there
on the stream, in the spring, with you, if I can.
If I'm not on the stream with you when you see the ducks and such return
from the south, always remember I wanted to be there.
~ Old Rupe