Spring Branch, August 2012

Home water: it’s not glamorous, it’s not the lifetime trip destination river, it’s not necessarily action water, going there doesn’t even need to be about fishing.

The stuff of this aquifer flooded my cells for the earliest years of my life. Bubbling up from the rocks beneath where my grandparents lived and my mom escaped a bull through a split rail fence and my dad coached high school softball, down coulees as sudden and hidden as a Himalayan valley, draining into the aqueous highway below the Harpers Ferry lock and dam where generations of my family drowned worms in a blue Lund and listened to whippoorwills and the Soo Line at night all summer long.

My daughter is as much of a tourist here as I now am. We throw pellets to trout in concrete impoundments and watch them swirl and thrash and swim towards us and away from the rightness of their instinct. The fences around the spring-fed races are electrified at night to keep herons off the product. We’re all transfixed for different reasons.

There’s a pool downstream of the pens where the diverted water rejoins the branch. In the last days of this dry summer a mixed pod of wild browns and specs seems to hold in clear air alongside the cerise stripes of hatchery rainbows thousands of miles and generations from their mountain home. We watch from the high bank, rod unstrung. The Monster drops leaves on their heads and watches only the streamborn fish scatter.

Ninja, please

The punter evening shift was hiking down as the the punter day shift – the Dark One and your author – were hiking up. Their waders were all dry and did not have goose shit on them. Their hands did not smell like fish slime and beef jerky, and were not coated with the earthly residue of mashed-up midge larvae or mayflies squished on the wing.

“Get any?” the evening shift asked.

“Yeah.”

“Nymphs or dries?”

Ninja, please. Do you see any Thingamabobbers?

My first video

It is what it is … home movies, mea punter culpa. Shot on a Flip, edited in YouTube, and I’ve learned some things: bluegrass abounds in fly fishing videos because it’s about the best and most simpatico option offered in the YT video editor; the clips of rising fish look better when watched on a large player; midges can be bidges; and the Dark One looks so good walking away in Simms it’s almost a shame he’s ever coming back.

What’s up, slate winged hotties?

Oh, hey ladies! Don’t tell me I missed the mating flight … let me just get out of this shuck and thenĀ it is on. I’m going to rock your oviduct for the rest of your life, girl. Or 23 hours, whichever comes first. Shit! I’m stuck in this … hey! Don’t fly away! I’m just … twitching here … but I am totally gonna get all up on your cercii! Damn surface film. Well, I’m sure missing that subvaria orgy is the worst thing that will happen to me this afternoon …

Why does everything taste like IPA?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2011

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