exceptions

the still water game has been good to me. except for today. i didn't even stop to take a piss. 10 hours straight. that's probably why i have a headache right now. but who stops for a drink when you are getting your ass handed to you?

the wind nearly broke me. next time i'll bring two anchors.

i put in the work from the moment the boat slid off the trailer until the CLACK-TING, CLACK-TING of my winch echoed from bank to bank and it slide back on. i loaded my gear, put on the strap and checked the trailer lights. i rubbed my wind burnt face and stretched my back and that is when it hit me. the wind had stopped. the final fuck you.

it's always been hard to leave this place. except for today.

dead drift

the air fills up with undulating columns of glittery wings. each pair beating out a rhythmic rise and fall. eventually all strength gives out and it's onto the current for a final ride.
trout are soon aware of the dead above and start a rhythmic rise and fall of their own.

i take advantage by dropping a lifeless object onto the surface, attempting a very literal "dead drift" that will match the cadence of the fish.

i spend the rest of the day thankful that this cycle of demise allows me to pull life from these cold currents.

while you can

i toe the gravel with my boot and listen to the hoppers clicking in the dry grass. i've been up since 3:30 am and after 6 hours behind the wheel we've finally just rolled to a stop. just a few steps away from the car and i can here the soft muffle of the water at the bottom of the canyon, it's pull is strong and i contemplate telling the guy i'm with "i'll just see you down there."

instead i open another bottle of water and take a big pull. the sun is hot and i'm trying to be proactive.

the water sloshes around in my gut as we navigate our way down the canyon's steep edges.

our day at the bottom plays out better then we hoped as we looked at maps, confirmed rumors and made sure the attractor box was stuffed.

some rivers are dangerous because they can drown you. others are dangerous because pool after pool, they beckon you further upstream. so you go on and on concentrating on yet another chubby eater instead of the dropping sun.

we barely get out of the canyon by dark.

we don't start a fire. instead we just put up the tent, eat a cold sandwiches and swat mosquitoes. we sit in the dark, laughing and shaking our heads at the day we just spent on that ribbon of water now far below.

my sleeping bag feels epic as i lay down. i close my eyes and drift off listening to all the nothing outside.

we wake up early and drink gritty coffee while we go over a plan to check on a tailwater that is close by. it's another day of catching more fish then two people really deserve. at times i start to feel a little greedy. but i swallow that greed and know that these are the memories that can pull a person through the long winter lurking just around the corner.

dear rubber legs

is it alright if i call you that? ok good.

because i know people have all kinds of names for you like the pickle or jimmy legs, or girdle bug but i like to drop the "pat's" and just call you "rubber legs". it's your best feature.

over the years i've really come to count on you and you deserve to know how i feel.

i know that you'll be there at those obvious time like on a freestone or during high water when a little more bulk goes a long way...

...what's that?.. no, no, no... i don't think your fat... i think you are perfect.

remember that day all those years ago when you surprised us both and we found out how well you work as a stealthy weight source on a technical nymph rig? you must wiggle just right too because those snotty, overfed tail water fish will sometimes be seduced by you even though you look like nothing like those skinny little midges they are always hanging around.

i love how simple you've made things for me at the vice. i used to have to maintain all these complicated relationships with such complicated patterns. they were so high maintenance i hated losing even one. but you have made it so carefree and fun to be bold. i leave you in trees and on the stream bottom all the time and after a few minutes at the vice we are back together just like old times.

i feel a little ashamed, but i'll just come out and say it... i even used to use a wing burner... there i feel better. who needs a wingcase anyway, let alone three?

i won't go and make any rash promises but if you keep this up, it's possible you could end up being the only stonefly for me.