In the middle of an emotional week, I took a couple of hours to get my head and heart straight by wetting a line.
Earlier in the week, I said farewell to an old friend and associate after he succumbed to Parkinson’s disease.
The next morning I got a call from a friend that a mutual friend of over 40 years had lost his 35 year-old, 6’5”, strapping son to a sudden heart attack. I have that ceremony to attend on Saturday just outside Boston.
All this after losing four friends over the winter that were very much a part of my life and in particular my outdoor life, dating back to the late fifties. I then found out that one of my two remaining friends from that time is now burdened with Alzheimer’s.
With all this, I needed a little “me time” so I hopped in the truck and headed for a couple of local lakes. I really wasn’t very intent on catching fish, but a fish or two might lift my spirits.
Things started off slowly, but the arsenal of lures that I keep for just such an occasion was not fully vetted yet. I keep a box with single, barbless-hooked lures, one each of virtually all of my favorites, for days when I want to travel light and ensure that no trout will be injured.
After the first dozen or so lures failed, I put one of my top, if not my top favorite on, an EGB spoon from Sweden.
BOOM! First cast a beautiful rainbow grabbed it and vaulted 3 feet into the air. He shook the lure, but I was thrilled just to see him. That brightened my day, and it would get much brighter.
In the next hour, I caught a dozen or so, and I lost another half dozen as they shook themselves free.
While I was in the middle of all this, standing in my waders on this beautiful lake all by myself, it reminded me of the closing scene of “A River Runs Through It”. If you’ve seen it or read the book, you’ll know exactly what I mean. Norman is standing in the river in his waders, now an old man, reflecting on all the people that shared his life and passions.
That’s what I was doing. I thought of every significant person that I had shared a lake or river with over my life time. Almost all of them now passed.
My dad of course was one of many, but the most significant was my friend Bob. I was holding his favorite rod and reel in my hand. Each year I try to start out the season by catching the first fish of the year (by “fish” I mean “trout,” as all other fish take a backseat to their beauty and mystique) on his rod.
I swear to you, with God as my witness, that in that moment I was literally talking out loud to Bobby. I said “You know I still miss you,” and I no more than uttered the last syllable, when a large rainbow all but pulled the rod out of my hand. I hooked him briefly, and then he leaped almost head high to me and shook the spoon. My take on all that was that Bobby was letting me know he was there with me.
I ended the day, few hours that it was, with a nice 19” trout. After which I turned and headed home leaving a bunch of hungry fish for some other lucky man who might need his spirits lifted.