I remember when the friendship began. I remember where it started. And I remember the first day shared. I also remember why I was there, for two specific purposes.
Okay. Enough of the teasing generalities. It was 2002. It was early September. Perhaps the time when Colorado shows God’s paintbrush with its greatest magnificence. [Anyone who beholds the breezed gold and yellow aspen leaves and denies that God is…frankly is a liar.]
Former parishioners, George and Dorothy Fisher in Lakewood, had gifted me their Frisco mountain condo. It was a time of sabbatical. Specifically it was time to tweak and craft my first novel, “Murder On Tillamook Bay.” But life is more than writing. In the Colorado Rocky Mountains with rivers flowing in every which direction, each holding if not teeming with trout…be it rainbows, cutthroat, German Browns. Life without fishing, at least personally, is a time that can never be lost or forgotten.
The rhythm of the day was consistent those two months. Write in the morning, after editing the previous day’s scripting. Take a nap. Fly fish in the late afternoon. Write again in the evening. Ah, the magic of it all…at least in my mind and heart and soul.
However. After a few weeks of trout waving their middle fin at me, I thought, “I need a fly-fishing guide.”
Not knowing anyone I went on line and found “Mountain Angler” in Breckenridge, called, asked for their best fishing guide [hey, important to prioritize requests] and had the honesty [perhaps more than a dash of audacity] to indicate I was an upstart murder/mystery novelist. The office guy didn’t hesitate, “Oh, you need to fish with Matt Krane…he knows how to do much and do it well.”
That morning came…waited in the office. Matt Krane showed up. At the time I didn’t know his middle name, at least functionally, was versatility. He is a ski patrol guy at Breckenridge, plays a mean guitar with the Pine Beetles, a more than “shirk-shoulders” singing group, a professional photographer and at least for me most importantly, a fishing guide.
He didn’t say where we were going. I didn’t care. One of those rare times when opinions had vacated.
We drove north on highway #9, turned left at Kremmling.
He knew that Muddy Creek had trout…rumor was the trout started at twelve inches and didn’t stop at twenty inches. He knew which nymphs to use, he knew which Muddy Creek sections held Mr. Trout. I had also shared that on my bucket list is to catch and release at least a twenty inch trout using a size #20 fly or nymph. [For those not really interested or curious, a fly floats on the surface and a nymph scouts out the creek’s rock bottom.]
I cast a few times. No result. Matt then said, “I’m going upstream a bit to see if there are any sippers.” My first reaction was, “Oh my, this creek has a tavern?” So, Matt Krane went upstream.
I then cast, actually a pretty good cast, neither my leader nor line slapped the water. The indicator, an orange float [probably in tribute to the Broncos], bounced along the surface, then it disappeared! I set the hook like I knew what I was doing and Mr. Trout leaped and twisted and ran and zipped and raced. I didn’t whisper, “Matt! I need help!”
He returned from Sippers-ville, went downstream and held a net. Ah, time to check off my bucket list.
The fish twisted and turned like it had just graduated from acrobat-school. Then the dreaded “ping,” the only way I can describe a snapped leader [tippet]. Time to cast again. And again.
That was more than a decade ago. Every year Diane and I get to Colorado with our fly rods. Matt Krane, known as my Rabbi Guide, hasn’t ever forgotten how to show me where the trout are. Every year we fish because of his kindness and generosity. We have become treasured friends…he’s the only guide who’s ever stopped my cast and looked up, “Mark. Look at that cloud formation.” Or. “Mark, look at that hawk.” We talk fishing. But more. We talk theology and politics and the why’s and wherefore’s of various ways in which life can be affirmed.
Now. Why on February 5, 2015 am I writing this? Because my very own personal Rabbi Guide just sent me and Mike Bell an article from an Aspen newspaper. [Mike, a physician in Tennessee and former owner of creek property has guested me and Diane there and has become a very special and valued friend.]
The Aspen newspaper held an article that has brought me anguish and “oh no!” It is an article that says the dam for Wolford Reservoir, which controls the stream flow for Muddy Creek, is shifting! The headline riveted,
Dam at Wolford Reservoir north of Kremmling moving slightly, but steadily…
With that the very real possibility the clay-foundation dam may not survive. Which could bring a water flow that will wash out Muddy Creek and send all the fishies [remember Muddy Creek trout start at twelve inches] into the Colorado River, a final farewell journey. Never to return to Muddy Creek and how it might survive.
No. I won’t give my fly rods away…as well as all the nymphs and dry flies I’ve accumulated over the decades. Someone once remarked, “You know? You have more flies than Cabelas!” And I know. I know that my Rabbi Guide will take me to new waters. Yep, that will be.
But. For over a decade if anyone had asked me, “Mark, if you had just one spot to fish…where would it be?” I would think first and foremost about Muddy Creek. It’s been that important and pushes perfection in fishing more than anywhere I know.
Guess down the trail there will be a new “Muddy Creek.” For personally, fishing is part of my life—no surprise there—and the blessings of close friends who just happen to be fishing guides—means the new day will have a new venue. But. Not new casts. And not without connecting with fish that run and jump and at times ping the leader. And you know. When the fish offers its “I got you!” smile and flees into its unhooked future, you know which fin is flipping.