P to the G

Earlier in the evening I was on an urgent errand, listening to music out of keeping for a man of my age out shopping for 4 month Manchego and gluten-free waffles and the biggest piece of chocolate cake. Then I came home and got out the vise for the first time in 2012.

Oh, hello ass-end of winter. I can’t help but notice you don’t have any snow cover around here and you’ve left our locals what I can only assume is gin clear and spooky. And what’s up, early inland trout season in Wisconsin. Do you know about green Pearsall’s Gossamer Silk and whatnot? Well then let’s get down and across like a boss. Wait, what’s that you say, McClelland’s Highland? Peat reek? Say hey.

OG soft hackle hustla. Rooster necks up, partridges down. Gimme my fuckin shit … right now.


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.

in between times








Rebuilding the squadron before Stand #3, next week. Preparing to take it on the chin, to feed the woodpiles and trees, to stay up late being responsible and wake up early to jack rigs like some kind of zombie punter Roderick Haig-Brown with breathables oozing ale yeast-and-burrito farts. Continue reading