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Started by Yallerhammer, July 06, 2019, 19:43:39 PM
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Time melts when you are wading a trout stream.
Einstein defined the behavior of time, space, and matter; but he failed to take into account this phenomenon that is known mostly to those of us who, contrary to any logic or sense of reason, arise in the gloaming of pre-dawn, and spend most of our free time wading in cold, turbulent waters, seeking contact with small wild trout and their environment; and in the end, losing track of whether we are trying to catch a fish, or trying to capture and absorb the whole perfect cosmos that is encapsulated in a stream where wild trout thrive.
I like to fish streams that are far enough back in the mountains so that you have to decompress and adapt to the surroundings along the way before you get there. Shed our world, and enter another. A riot of chlorophyll, water, rock, and life. Slow down your pace to match everything around you.
Twelve miles of single-track gravel. Seems like a lot. But, after awhile, you quit thinking like a human and begin to notice. You notice through the raindrops on your windshield that the rosebay rhododendrons are in full bloom, almost tunneling the little track that you are driving on.
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You notice the bones of the earth-the blocky, tortured, fractured rock of the Anakeeesta formation, everywhere dripping, seeping, and spurting pure, clean water.
After awhile, you arrive at the stream. You put on your wading boots, rig your rod, and step in; sucking in your breath at that first contact with the icy water that surrounds your legs and pours into your boots. You study the creek as the first rays of sunlight burn through the morning mist. Your eyes seek a rising fish, a chughole behind a rock, or a swirling eddy where a trout may lie, waiting for food to be carried down by the never-ending current.
Your first few casts are awkward. Your boots slide on the slippery rocks in the streambed. Your timing is off. Your backcasts as often as not encounter a low-hanging limb. Your mends are off, and your fly isn't matching the speed of the current. You miss the first couple strikes, too absorbed with being yourself to yield to the elements you are immersed in. You aren't there yet. You aren't quite feeling the rhythm of your surroundings.
Gradually, you work into it. You slow down. You quit thinking consciously. It starts feeling right. Everything grows more fluid. Timing. Being. Adjusting.
And, suddenly, your fly is floating exactly with the speed of the current. The timing of your casts is right. And, when part of the water in the stream suddenly becomes a trout rising to your fly, you react without thinking, instinctively. Because you were expecting it. You knew it was about to happen, right there, and right then. You made it happen unconsciously. You are now connected to a part of the stream by a current of energy that runs from the trout, up the line, and through your arm. You bring it to the net, admire it, and release it.
Now, you start to enter The Zone. Nothing else exists, just you, the stream, the trout, and the forest around you. This is why you go this far into the woods to fish, so that you aren't bothered by other people, other thoughts, other things. Everything that matters is here and now.
More trout come to hand. You don't count, because it doesn't matter. You are tuned in. You are part of all that surrounds you. You can almost feel the energy transfer of the giant trees above you eating sunlight: converting solar energy, the carbon dioxide that you are exhaling, and water into carbohydrates, sugars, and the oxygen that you are inhaling. Mycorrhiza connect the roots of one tree to another, sharing water, nutrients, life. Mushrooms sprout from the mycelium. Some of the mycelium that share life between trees also creep into the heartwood of the giant trees, sucking life and rotting their hearts. Shrubs, ferns, forbs, and mosses sprout in the spaces between the tree trunks. Caterpillars munch leaves. Parasitic wasps lay eggs on the caterpillars. Birds swoop down and eat the parasitic wasps. Some caterpillars live and pupate, Butterflies flutter by. A kingfisher dips its bill into the creek and comes out with a fingerling trout. A mayfly hatches and floats until its wings harden, then flutters away, and will soon return to layits eggs in the surface film of the stream, where they will hatch into nymphs, which will cling to rocks and hide from the trout. Another mayfly is eaten by a trout before it has the chance to fly. And on and on. At the heart of it all is magic water, and you are standing knee-deep in it. It's all connected.
In this state of mind, nothing exists outside of where you are.
When you look down and see a snake beside your foot, you aren't startled. You give it room and try to keep from bothering it as it does what it is doing.
When an errant cast lands your fly in a rhododendron limb, instead of cussing, you admire the blooms on it.
And, when lightening flashes, thunder rolls, and the sky opens, you make your way back to your truck for shelter. It isn't a bad thing. Because you are in the state of mind that realizes that this is the reason for the breathing trees, the water pouring from rocks that creates the stream that you are standing in and the trout that live in it. The base cause of the magic.
As you wait out the storm, you tune the satellite radio in your truck to the bluegrass channel. Because anything else besides the haunting minor-key vocals and plaintive acoustic instruments would be sacrilege here.
After awhile, the rain stops, and the sun comes out, peeking here and there through banks of clouds. Foggy mist rises from the ground and the water as the sun touches them. You fish more. The trout are hitting even better after the storm as the creek has risen and taken on a bit of color.
Trout are almost mystical, seemingly unreal. Cold, swift water given shape and life. You are mesmerized by their colors. Liquid scarlet forms a stripe, a spot, the edge of a fin. Greens, blues, grays, golds, silvers, coppers, blacks, whites, and hues you can't name-all the colors of everything that surrounds you are impressed on these beings made of solidified creek water.
At some point, maybe you select one of these trout. You hold it in your hand and feel its raw energy as it twists and wriggles in your grip. You take out your pocketknife and whack it on the back of the head, right at the base of the spine. You feel it quiver and stiffen. You open its belly, taking out intestines, and gills. With your thumbnail, you scrape out the dark streak of kidney running down its backbone, and rinse the fish in the same water it lived in. It rests in your creel with a few others you have selected. You will take them home and cook them and eat them, and the molecules that make up these mystical creatures will become part of you for awhile, connecting you even closer to the water that we all sprang from and that we all rely on for our lives. You become part of the cycle that the trout, the bugs, the birds, the trees, and all other things that live here answer to.
After awhile, you notice that time has melted. The shadows are longer. You catch one more fish, watch it disappear back into the water that spawned it, and hook your fly to the hook keeper on your rod. You stop for one last long, wistful look around, and start the hike back to the truck and the trip back to human reality. But you won't forget the reality that you have lived in for the last several melting hours. And you will miss it, and long for the next time you experience it.
In other words, I went fishing yesterday. I enjoyed it. I want to go back again.
Very nice, sir. Very nice, indeed. bd;0
Wow. Fine writing. Very fine writing.
0:0 I really enjoyed reading that! I now need some small stream lovin'
That was outstanding.
Outstanding indeed. Professional grade writing, photographs, and fishing. Beautiful. Thank you for making my morning fine, Yallerhammer!
I will come back, reread, and revisit this report when I need a lift and can't go fishing....
Just curious as to what kind of creel you use? I hav an old wicker creel but haven't had much luck keeping fish fresh. Rarely keep fish but it would be nice to eat some occasionaly.
Thanks, guys. I used to do a good bit of magazine writing, mostly traditional archery stuff. Don't write much nowadays. Every now and then when I'm in the right mood and get a couple glasses of good brown likker in me, my inner wordy feller pops out.
Greg, I just use one of those green canvas ones. I actually get the one designed for kids, it's smaller and I can loop it around the waist belt of my sling pack so it hangs out of the way. It doesn't hold bigger fish well, but I usually turn the bigger ones loose, the 7"-10" ones are the best eating, and are the ones that are overpopulating the creeks. You can dip it in the creek now and then to keep the fish cool and fresh. I don't tote it much, but a few times a year I'll creel a limit. I can remember my grandpa had a big wicker creel that he made himself from white oak splits. My sister still has it. He would put a bed of ferns in it and lay the trout on them.
I think a lot of creeks in the Smokies would benefit from more folks keeping some fish. Back when I started fly fishing, almost everybody kept their fish, and seems like the fish were a lot bigger on average. Now, almost no one keeps any, and the creeks are swarming with smaller rainbows and browns with less bigger fish. 12"-14" rainbows are quite scarce now, but they used to be common.
Thank you for that. In the heat of summer in middle TN that just put my soul in the mountains. Felt like I was there.
Best report that I have seen in a spell. Good fish and good script
Very good read and fishing. Hit us right in the feels.
Mighty fine writings, capturing what I think we all feel when have one of those special days in a special place.
Excellent! It's been too long since I've been on a stream, and this reinvigorated me. Your pictures make me want to go even more, but at the same time your writing satisfies me for now and satiates the desire. Thank you for that.