It is a well-established fact that time spent in pleasant pursuits passes so swiftly that we hardly perceive it to be so, as opposed to time spent in gainful employment. Even as it hurtles past, certain instants are frozen in our memory, to be recalled again and again. The flashy splash as a trout takes the fly, the glint of the sunlight on the subtle colors of a noble trout, or the image of a mayfly that made a brief stop on our sleeve. These are the images that are precious and are forever etched on our memory.
Memories of a Fly Fisherman
Every fly fisherman has a vivid collection of memories of those special days spent on a favorite stretch of water. We only have to allow our mind to drift back to those times to picture those memories. We attempt to capture some of them with cameras and admittedly, good photos are treasures. However, photos never can live up to our memories of those special times.
These distant memories are mere flashes of time. They may have been there and gone in an instant, but they remain as clear and beautiful and the years only enhance them.
Even the worst of days may yield a single occurrence that is worthy of our collection of memories. We are reminded of the wise, old statement that “a bad day on the stream is better than a good day in the office.”
The mind is a strange thing and how it can store memories and recall them from many years past is unique. As a fly fisherman, bowhunter and firearms hunter for many decades, I can attest to the fact that things that occurred 50 or 60 years ago can be recalled vividly.
When we go afield, we are adding to that vast collection of images that will become precious to us. It behooves us to take advantage of those opportunities to add to our stock. Even the way that the fly line arcs through the air leaving a fine trail of mist in the sunlight may spark our memory. We never know what images will be burned into our memory. No painter or photographic record can capture the nuances of a memory as well as the memory can. A well-tied fly, landing softly on the water, an elusive trout approaching, the take, the hook-set and the ultimate landing, all combine to create a special memory.
At the time, it is agonizing when a good fish escapes the net. It is a strange thing that sometimes these situations are so vivid in our memory. I remember on the North Mills River, near the end of the excursion, I was standing at the head of a pool, in a bend of the river. I had taken a 12” rainbow from the pool. As I looked upstream at some riffles above the pool, a dark shadow was intermittently visible in a bathtub-sized pothole.
Some line was stripped from the reel and I made a long, diagonal cast above the pothole and let my stonefly nymph drift downstream. There was an immediate strike and a 12-14” rainbow came to the net. I thought, “That fish didn’t make the large shadow that I saw.”
After allowing some time for the disturbance to pass, I repeated the cast. A large dark shadow engulfed the fly and an epic battle ensued. After a brief struggle in the shallow riffle, the fish dashed by, almost at my feet, where I stood in the shallows. He ran past me, into the pool. There was a fallen tree spanning the pool. As the fish neared the tree, I feared he would tangle my leader and tippet. I applied a little more pressure and the small hook pulled free.
I have a picture of the beautiful rainbow seared into my memory as it passed so closely to my position. At the time, my thought was, “I only wanted a photo and then I would have released you.” It was the highlight of the day and the 20” plus rainbow on the small stream will live on forever in my memory.
It is not always the ones that are netted that make the best memories. Good memories are like good wine, to be savored and enjoyed. The advantage of the memories is that the glass never runs dry!