warmed twice

the house was damp and basically peeling itself away from it's pine skeleton. the deal was we'd live there and i'd repair it for money off of the rent. the two best parts about the place were the stone fire pit out back and the wood stove inside. my father in-law gave me this axe, an old government issued tool and i'd put it to work a few times a day as i struggled to keep the sieve like walls warm for the brand new baby inside.

for many years it has served me well.

a few months back i broke the handle so i set to fitting it with a new piece of hickory and with no reason to rush i took it slow. precision over productivity. i was proud of the end product. my old tool looked handsome, like I had dipped it in the tool version of the fountain of youth.

the other night we sat by a small, snapping cook fire and twirled hot dogs and brats above it until they were golden brown.

i poked at the embers and asked if i should add some wood so the kids could make smores.

you'd think this is where my memory would be hazy, but it's not. this is where my memory comes into intense focus. i pick up a log, no different than the hundreds, maybe thousands of logs before it. i chip off a small piece. i adjust my hold and go for another, my axe skips and i'm swinging a little harder.. and that's it... quick as that everything is different.

the ER room is small. a thin sheet separates me from all the other people who are laying there wishing they could have that one minute of life back. the hot, severely bright swivel light above me is missing a bolt where it attaches to the ceiling. someone gives me a shot in my arm, followed by some shots around my knuckle. pain, gauze and blood. sweat drips into my eyes and i stare at my feet and wonder when was the last time clipped my toenails.

it's strange how we've supposedly come so far. all of us carrying little computers around in the pockets of synthetic blend pants that don't even wrinkle.

but not in this high plains clinic. instead i step back in time and i get a wild west solution. a pill instead of a shot of whiskey though and then everything is burned to close up arteries and blood vessels.

"could have been worse" they say and i know they are right.

"don't get that wet for a couple of weeks" and the real pain sets in. 

i swallow another pain killer and try to imagine what it's going to be like to tie bloodknots.

description

it's bitter sweet to know a stream so well you catch a fish on the first cast after two years away.

it's bitter sweet to laugh with friends while water and time pass by too quickly.

it's bitter sweet to know they are all there, those people and those places, and it'll be a long time before you see them again.

sometimes there is only one way to describe things.

home waters

what is a fisherman without home waters? without those places that you know inside and out, those places that fit your moods, fit your approach. those places that you've seen in every condition and offer you all you really need and sometimes just a little more.

if you are not careful where you land those places can be difficult, if not impossible to replace.

during the warm weather there is enough close by to keep a guy busy if you have an open mind or maybe in reality it's just really low standards. recently i've been unable and some days just unwilling to drive three hours one way to get myself on decent water. money and time are factors i've learned not to fight.

that means spending days on local lakes or ponds with in an hours radius, just getting in whatever time i can. i've found a few grass carp but have yet to even make a cast to them, i've caught billions of 7 inch bass and have occasionally spent time casting to pods of tailing catfish. you only need to carry a hand full of flies and then be willing to take whatever comes.

soon i'm going back to immerse myself in the familiar. to see friends, family and water that treated me well for so long. the adult me knows there is no real going back, time does not stand still after you leave a place. but my nights are already sleepless with the possibility that maybe things won't be so different and we'll understand why we still call somewhere so far away, home.

walleye

i was recently asked to fish in a walleye tournament.

this guy had his fishing partner bail on him and last minute he asked me if i could fill in. i laughed loud and hard and when i stopped i told him. "i don't know shit about walleye fishing. but they taste good so... sure, why not?"

then i said "maybe i'll finally understand trolling" then i laughed super hard cause trolling is mind numbing. but since he was in a tough spot, i filled out the paper work and he bought some leeches.

the most interesting part of the weekend was seeing just how into all of these people were. to this group of guys there is no other fish or fishery. sitting in a boat and watching rod tips bounce in rod holders is what gets them going. i love that. i love seeing people into their own thing. especially if whatever they are into keeps them off trout streams.

i had stashed a fly rod in the boat among the trolling stick and bait casters and broke it out during the pre-fishing to cast to cruising carp. the whole thing has got me thinking about how catchable the walleye in this lake might be on flies. there has to be a better way because trolling has not grown on me and even though walleye fight like a wet sock, i figure i owe it to my love of fish tacos to try to figure it out.

pelicans

it's still so strange to me that you find all of these pelicans out here in the middle of nowhere. my whole life i've thought of the pelican as an ocean creature. i guess it's all of those years spent surfing and  watching groups glide by as i bobbed around in the line up.

they are thriving in some of the colorado's reservoirs. maybe even doing too well. there were so many in some spots today you could smell them from a distance. they don't smell good and the smell seemed to get up in your nostrils and hang on. the carp don't seem to mind the foul masses but a cold front had them feeding in waves that lacked consistency.

we hopped around looking for signs of feeding fish. those runs turned out to be the best part of the day. turns out 150 horses pushing you across the lake was the perfect way to wash the pelican smell out of your nose holes.

pants

we were running out of light and i hadn't had a bump for close to an hour.

i say, "i'm going to go over to the dock and make a few casts"

my friend responds "ok... i'm going to put my pants back on.

some people just march to their own beat, like the dude i was fishing with for instance. tonight we roll up to a spot and he immediately hooks a pike. the fish burrows into some reeds and without hesitation he kicks off his shoes, drops trou and starts snapping cattails as he wades out in his underwear.

i laugh and then hook a pike of my own and follow it as it heads in a different direction. 20 or so minutes later i hear a hoot and then the proclamation "i got a nice crappie... my phone is in my jeans can you come take a photo?"

no there has been absolutely no reason not to put some pants back on but dude spent the rest of the evening just wandering around and fishing in his underwear.

when we get in the car to leave i say "why'd you fish in your skivves all night?"

he says "don't know. the water felt good... i don't know... i'm just livin' life i guess"

after a couple of hours spent catching pike in the fading summer light with pheasants and turkey sounding out a chorus all around us, that answer made perfect sense.

200R

i've used the 200R for a lot of years. i know some people that love it and i know some people that hate it. it's like the hot girl of the tiemco nymph hooks. she's so thin with that gentle, appealing curve. some flies just look so good on her. but she's frail, weak even, almost like she's got an eating disorder.

and after you burn a couple tanks of gas and get your ass handed to you all-day-long and your sink tip gets tangled in your trolling motor (again) you are about to bail and all of the sudden a very large fish eats your fly. everything stops and the question becomes, can you really count on her to be there for you?

how much does a hook have to bend for a gotdam very large trout to get off? not much.

how much does a hook have to bend for me to consider never tying on it again? not much.

weather

sun, wind, fog, thunder, snow, rain, lighting and sleet all in the same place, all within 8 hours.