Middle Root, 2002

Far-off and maddening spring, when it’s all next, next, next. Bust out enough of this pattern to loan or lose in a week, block out the time and square away obligations to catch this hatch, re-up on tippet before the first trip, then get to the river as much as you can and soak it up like a solar panel. No. Sedentary winter, cold and slow, is perilous with reflection, hours and hours of Taurean dark streaked comet-like by tumblers of distillate, its accretion of seasons as imponderable and no less miraculous than your own.

My first trout came, as I reckon it here from this chair, when I was twenty six and out of work, spending a summer learning to fly fish in spring creeks. Continue reading


I wish I had a better picture for you.

Sunday, November 6. The last short beaten-down day of a 4-day stand. Unseasonable warmth, sunshine, bugs, snakes, and low water.

Dark One takes a brown, I nymph up a skipjack and witness a red squirrel swim the ROP. Voluntarily. No documentation of either exists, but it all happened.

In the slow pools the mottled corpses of spawned-out pink salmon, and one in a stony riffle, its body frozen in a rigorous “u” by death and coldwater current. I kick its rock and send it downstream to a claiming bend.

My last casts of the season in the stretch below the rapids, indie rigging and fishing it trouty. Listen to the water dance over round basalt and fallen birch and fir, climb the clay banks and sink in the silt, plop plop plop go fly and shot. I come not to praise indicator fishing or its aesthetics, but to bury them.

At the final run of the 2011 season, a tiny bright skipper flashed from beneath a sweeper on my bank, found the current as the bobber dipped and was gone forever. I went back to the car and put away my things.

The last day, the last run, the last cast of the year. Closing time, one Founder’s Red for the road while your waders dry in the cool north wind. It’s like saying goodbye to a lover when you were young, the bereftness and finality.

And at the same time, coming off a brutal season of getting hosed by conditions: relief. Relief at being able to pack it in early because of the lack of the river, and having that be OK. Permission to take a three hour 12 pack lunch. To look forward to the end of the trip and hold my daughter and tell her of lost fish and found bobbers and a swimming squirrel.