“A bad day of fishing beats a good day of work”
On my recent vacation, I fished two small streams on the North Shore that I had never fished before: The Junco River and the Devil Track. Neither is on anybody’s list of blue-ribbon trout streams, but they each have brookies capable of putting up a fight much bigger than their size warrants.
Both the rivers are small and difficult to fish. Fast and rocky runs, thick underbrush, and fallen trees across the stream make difficult wading. But I managed to find enough holes and the right fly enough times to feel… “successful.”
In fishing success is a relative thing. In my life I have fished with people who are dis-satisfied unless everyone in the party limits out. And I have fished with other who do not even bother to “bait their hook.” I prefer the latter.
In matters of fishing, I am an underachiever. I am in love with the process, not the result. As a life-long catch-and-release fisherman, all that matters to me is that something hits my hook. When it is a fly I have tied myself, it is even better.
Unlike a lot of fly-fisherman, I do not eschew other kinds of fishing. Indeed, my daughter Morgan and I spent a beautiful afternoon on a lake in a canoe stalking bass with spinners. It was, for me, the best afternoon of my vacation. Bass like trout put up the kind of fight that makes fishing interesting to me. And an afternoon with one of my daughters fishing is the best day I could ever ask for.
Those familiar with the North Country know that canoeing is viewed here as sacramental. This reverence for the canoe has always been something I have never been able to fully appreciate… at least until this most recent vacation. Now after 30 years of being contrarian, I am hooked.
I have spent the weeks since returning from vacation researching fishing canoes and fishing kayaks. When or if I will get one is hard to say. In the meantime, it is something to dream about. In dreaming, as in fishing, I am also a bit of an underachiever. Oftentimes the process is more interesting to me than the result.
Summer is coming to a close here in the North Country. A few trees already have leaves changing colors. In a couple months it will be de facto winter again and fishing will only be either dreams or memories.
Sunday I took my eldest back for her second year of college. Next week my youngest begins her senior year of high school. The seasonal change from summer to fall mirrors the changes I am feeling in my own life.
I like fishing new rivers for the same reason that I like trying new beers and new books and new foods and new poets… it keeps things fresh. It pushes me outside my various comfort zones, which is, of course, good for creativity and for the spirit.
This year it was two new rivers… and a lot of other new things. Next summer… I hope it will be even more rivers and more new things.