Saturday, January 9, 2021

Once Again Waiting on the Snow

Once again, waiting on the snow and for the fish to return. A new year. Not much yet but I can wait. I know how to wait. 

Actually, we got some snow a few nights ago but we still need more.  We need snows and rains  to soak the earth, to fill the lakes and rivers. 

I also made an inquiry at the local fly shop. Always helpful. Some fish are appearing in the runs and feeding. I can usually fill in the rest that the fish are taking eggs and midges. Maybe a black leach. 

The plan is to fish tomorrow with two friends. Sometimes going fishing feels like a commitment to people in my life, to keep in touch and at other times a commitment to get out in nature and perhaps prove to myself I can still find a fish.  

Fishing can also be about keeping my commitment to walk a solitary path through the forest and that reminds me of how I started fishing back in New Jersey 50 years ago.


Wednesday, January 6, 2021

The River is Crowded:

 I have been guiding on the South Platte River since the 80's.  Anybody notice how crazy crowded the river is ALL year?  What can we do ? 

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Changing My Life:

The great German speaking poet, Rainer Maria Rilke concluded one of his poems with the statement, “I need to change my life.”  The line seems to come out of nowhere.  It is a powerful conclusion and a proclamation stating a frustration with life that emanates from the poets own inner being.   And it also strikes a chord deep inside my soul.

I wonder if this sense of wanting my life to change in some deep manner is simply a part of the existential human condition.  Is it normal to struggle with angst, meaninglessness and the feeling that life remains unfulfilled?  It seems to me that no matter what I obtain and no matter how much success I achieve there is still something elusive that remains just out of casting range of the rivers I fish.  There is always the fish that gets away.

My fly fishing world of river, rock and sky, provides a wonderful place for me to wrestle with these questions and the existential struggles of life. My guess is that there are many people out there who at least feel some of the frustration and want their life to change. However, I think many remain silent. After all aren’t we supposed to be happy and fulfilled?  But suppose if we are not?

I prefer not to pretend and just go along and smile.  I, like the poet, want to make that proclamation, “I need to change my life.”    I want to change my life and take steps to make that happen. 

Forget therapy. Forget the pills. I don’t need a drink. Forget all the electronic connections we make via our social media world. And I don’t need to go to “church”.

Sometimes, I just need to stand on the banks of a river and cast, even knowing that some fish will always elude me.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Deep Snows of Winter : To Cover the Scars We left Upon Eden

The Mountains need snow.  We need the water, and of course, so do the fish.

However, besides these basic needs, I think we also need the snow to block our way to the river.  The banks need healing along with the fish. We have left our scars upon the land and the fish themselves. 

Can I help it that I secretly wish for storms so heavy with snow that they deny us access to the river? Perhaps heavy snow is the only way to keep us out. Let the river, the fish and the land heal.  

Am I being too dramatic? Who has not seen in years past when sections of river were temporarily closed to fishing because of high water or threat of fire, how wonderful the fishing was when it reopened? With no closures in sight, I can only hope for heavy snow. I hope the snow falls and denies us access for a day or two. Or, maybe a week.  Any break might help heal the scars.

Who has not seen the scars on the fish; the broken off flies in their mouths, and their tired response when hooked? Have we not seen every day and all day long the relentless pounding of our favorite holes? 

How many times can a fish be hooked, its feeding cycles interrupted, and still thrive (or even survive?).

I doubt the D.O.W.,  park service or the national forest agencies would ever propose rest periods for the fish by periodically closing sections of river. I doubt fly shops could collaborate and agree to limit guiding or fishing on our most popular sections of river.  Could the fly fishing community ever agree to fish less?

How could I, as a lover of fly-fishing, during a 60 degree winter day, deny myself the urge to fish? Or, how could I not cast to a 30 inch fish that has moved up from a lake during the fall and Spring migrations?  

Therefore, come heavy snow and cover the river, the trails, and the roads. Deny me access if only for a day. If no one else is going to stop me perhaps nature will try with a hefty snow storm.

Heal the damage I have done.  Heal the damage that we have all down. Heal Eden.

Heal my own heart. 

Thursday, October 1, 2020


A Moment on the South Platte:

The old familiar road wound serpentine past the Deckers bridge and on to stories for another day.  Walking up the path I’d traveled so many times, Ray’s Run came into shadowed view.  It was around 5:45 in the morning. Serene for a few more moments.

Sometimes you’ll find down there, a bit to your left and short stumble down, a sort of marsh.  The current has slowed from the main stream, dark and stagnant with an uncertain bottom. 

But just outside that, the clear unhindered mainstream gets its first illumination of the dawn.  And then, there they are.  Four browns in casual formation – knowing nothing specific about what assault is to soon befall them.  Though I know they are subtly aggravated by a perhaps distant memory of a shadow from the shore, of a prick from a tiny size 24 hook or even worse, the jarring experience of the net.

The plan was to meet up with the clients here. My friend and fellow guide Karbo would show them the way. I could hear them coming along the trail; talking, laughing, a woman with a New York accent. How out of place?  But I guess it is I that am out of place.

We begin to instruct.  Fish are hooked quickly. Some are landed and some lost. Our voices break the silence of dawn. And then there are no more strikes. No more glowing Browns.

What has changed?  The fish are no longer interested in what we have to offer. It seems to me that the fish have memorized the pattern and avoid us. What is the pattern? The pattern is that this happens every day. Anglers and the accompanying assault arrive with the dawn, or slightly after, and the fish go into hiding; under rocks, and within the undercut banks.

While they were glowing it was a beautiful moment.  

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Excused to Solitude

As a kid I loved to have an excuse to fly fish a pond up the road from my home. I was one of those kids (and perhaps still am to a certain degree), who always felt the pressure to be doing more important things such as school work or competing in sports or  trying to be part of my social world.

How wonderful it was and still is to be excused now and then from "participating," in the game of life.   One of the strange positive aspects of living in this Pandemic is that I feel somewhat excused from work and being a part of a social group. I wonder if those who are single and living in this pandemic might also feel some relief and be better at being alone.

So much is beyond our control. Maybe that is always the reality of life; we have so little control. As I contemplate that lack of control, sometimes I can relax. There is nothing I can do. I can't work. I can't really pursue people.

But I can go fish now and then. I am excused.   

Monday, January 13, 2020

The Mystery of My Life as a Fly Fisher

Since I was young, I felt a strange fascination with the mystery of my life. There was so much that I simply did not understand about myself or, of life in general.  I will soon be 60, and this preoccupation continues as I try to unravel the meaning of my life.  

Often Christians told me that I was too inward. Teachers told me I was too serious. Friends told me to lighten up.  While I considered their words, and entertained the thought that I might be out of balance, for the most part I continued to think introspectively about the existential condition of my life.

Over the years, the existential poets and philosophers have helped me. 

Soren Kierkgaard, the founding father of existentialism said it was a mistake to look outward. If we do, we tend toward mere “talkativeness.”  He continued to ask the tough questions: Where am I?  Where do I belong?

Rilke describes looking up at the evening sky and says the image leaves him with the task of trying to unravel the mystery of his life.

Dostoevsky said that he had to face the mystery of his life, if he wanted to be a man.  

Socrates said the un-examined life is not worth living.

Camus said life was absurd.  And yet, like Sisyphus, we are to continue to push the boulder up the mountain again and again even knowing it will simply roll back down. 

Another year and decade begins full of mystery. What will the coming days bring? Will the fishing be good?

What is the meaning of the big fish that will get away or any of the fish that we might hold in our hands?

Will we preserve our delicate fish populations or cause injury?