only needed this box today.
some guy pulls up in his truck and says "hey, what are you boys catchin' on them flies?"
i say "carp"
he pauses, shakes his head and says "we just don't do that around here"
i say "yep"
he smiles and drives away thinking he was right.
i smile and scan the flat for another piece of trash.
in over two decades of fishing i've never used a float tube. fishing out of one is what i imagine fishing out of a wheelchair would be like. they allowed us a unique perspective and my friend seemed to enjoy himself much more then i did. i felt like i was sitting on a shitty couch with too many pillows. the trout didn't mind my dangling legs or flippers as much as i did and they ate streamers and the midges that skittered along the surface.
the next week found us back in the area but with a proper boat and pike flies. we cast and stripped big bugs and said things like "it's still early" and "the water needs to warm up a few more degrees" but who knows. only one fish showed itself so maybe we were right and maybe we were wrong.
one thing i do know is that it feels like spring is about to burst wide open. soon all the temperatures will be right and the rainbows will eat more bugs and the pike will eat rainbows and i'll cast to all of them, as often as i can, until the temperatures are all wrong again.
i wake up one morning and the weather outside our thin windows is sharp and angry. i wander into the bathroom to take to piss and realize that there is ice on the inside of the window pane. my feet quickly lose heat on the tile and i don't get it back until later that night standing in our leaky shower with the tepid water drizzling over my head. during the warmest part of the day the thermometer reads 4°. i spend each hour of the dim daylight taking pieces of our life from a storage unit and stuffing them into my car and then making a short drive only to carry them from the car into the house that we have just bought.
a house that smells of cigarettes and animals and neglect.
i wake up 7 days later and all the snow and slush are gone. the thermometer reads 73° during the warmest part of the day and the windows no longer have ice one them. i pull them open to wash the house of it's past.
later i stand in the middle of the dirt patch that is our yard and i soak up the morning sun and it's amazing, impossible and glorious fucking warmth.
this winter has changed me. 30 degrees feels warm… shit that's t-shirt weather. so when i saw a few days of low winds and 40 degree temps there was no real decision to be made, only facts and logistics to deal with.
with everything packed and hope in our souls we started the drive at the time most bars are shutting down. the roads around here are are lonely in the those hours when one day transitions into the next. we'd burned a half a tank of gas when we hit a surprise snow storm. the road disappeared and the combination of the headlights and heavy flakes made it feel like we were traveling at warp speed in some sci-fi movie.
i leaned into the steering wheel and white knuckled it for miles and miles. i found myself praying for a sunrise that seemed hours behind schedule and when it eventually happened, we relaxed a little, i set the cruise control and started to think about what flies i'd start the day with.
the air began to warm and eventually it made the snow we had endured seem impossible. we drove into a canyon and parked along the top edge of it's steep walls. the water that slipped along it's base offered plump rainbows for those willing to mix a little rock climbing into their fishing plans.
there have only been a handful of days in my life where i've been literally worn out from catching fish and this was one of them. as we piled into the car to head home i rubbed my sore forearms and for the first time in a long time i closed my eyes and had hope that maybe all of this change might have been worthwhile.
65 mph gusts + dust = shitty bird hunting
more switch grass, more milo, more corn stubble, more wind, more sky, more cover, more number 4's, more swings, more misses. soon it'll be over and there will be less of all of this.