I had forgotten. Which happens more frequently these days. I had forgotten that the Arkansas River…and where we fish is south of Leadville…wins for being the slipperiest rivers. The rocks are smooth and moss-covered, like walking on ice, underwater. A real challenge.
And. Truth pushing, not a river I could ever wade by myself.
Enter a great friend. Bryan and I have fished in Colorado for over ten years. He’s a master fly-caster and ties almost all of the dry flies and nymphs. I think his middle name is Generosity, for he makes sure I use what will catch fish.
Last Saturday he took Diane and me to the Arkansas. He said, “Let me help you,” as we walked along the Arkansas River. For the next five hours it was “hold on to Bryan,” as he navigated from this fishing spot to the next. It was also a seminar on what hatch was on, as he would point, “Mark, look. A Yellow Sallie.” Or, “Green Drake.” Or, “Blue-Winged Olive.” Or, “Pale Morning Dun.” What a seminar. What a guy.
It may have been a day of a thousand casts. The fish perhaps anticipated my sliding from one rock to the next a foreboding warning sign. They were uncooperative. More than ever before.
But. That didn’t matter. Because Bryan and I were together…and without his help? Sigh. I wasn’t without his help, which made the day priceless.
Now. I wouldn’t know a Pale Morning Dun from a Blue Winged Olive. I do know, though, that being together and my leaning in his direction for help and his generous arm and hand to get me to the upstream holes…tremendous.
No less than the day before fishing our very favorite trout fly-fishing stream, Muddy Creek. Bryan helped Diane navigate from one trout haven to the next. My wonderful friend and fishing guide, Rabbi Guide, and I spent the day playing, netting and releasing very large Rainbow trout. There was one magic moment when Mr. Trout grabbed on to a nymph—think it was a Pheasant Tail—and took off. My reel sang as Mr. Trout jumped and dashed. Very clever fish. Went toward a large boulder in the middle of the stream. I was able—barely—to hold the fly rod high enough to get over the boulder. What a great battle. And as I looked more closely at the trout I gulped. It could be. It might be. A check-off of my bucket list—a greater than 20” trout. Rabbi Guide was downstream, holding the net.
The Bucket-List-Possible trout had other ideas. As it got close to the net, Mr. Trout said, “No way!” tossed its head, spit out the nymph and left us standing…a quiet reel…an empty net…what we might call Early Release.
Hey, fishing happens. Life happens. Sometimes the nets are empty.
But in it all, the blessings of friendships ring joy and gladness for every day.
Here’s a picture of the three guys…Bryan and Rabbi Guide and yours truly.
To say that I value them and enjoy fishing with them is perhaps one of my greatest understatements.