Sunday, September 13, 2009

The quintessential moment

 The last post for awhile as I will be off making memories casting a long line on big roaring rivers.

The moment

It is what wakes us out of a sound sleep, and fills out thoughts throughout the dark winter, as we tie flies and dream.
The take. The pull. The grab.
The first sensation of connection to an electric living thing. An unknown. An unseen. A hope.

Halfway down the gravel bar I spotted the power-lines, and smiled. There is just something about power-lines that seem to attract fish. Quite a bit of silly speculation has occurred around campfires as to this phenomenon. One angler explained to me that it had something to do with the fish’s homing sense and the magnetic field of the earth interacting with the overhead electric power. I speculated that it had to do with where the lines crossed the river; that usually being near a narrowing chute of oxygenated water.

Whatever it was, it seemed rather universal. I have found it on smallmouth bass rivers, trout streams, as well as big roaring steelhead rivers.

My fly was swinging well that morning as I cast a long line effortlessly with the two-handed rod. A size 4 autumn twilight was the offering of the moment, and confidence was at a high. I could almost feel the tension. Something was about to happen. The sun broke over the canyon walls just as I reached the power-lines, and the water began to slow and deepen. Expectation crawled up my spine like the electric current overhead.

My next cast was about half way through its swing when I felt the slightest tap. It was a delicate little pianissimo thing, like an angel alighting on the head of a pin. Twenty seconds later I almost disbelieved that I had felt it at all. Two more casts in the same place produced nothing but nervous tension, so I took a step down and cast again. Then the wind changed and began blowing upriver. “Crap,” I thought, “now I am screwed.”

It was that last long cast before the wind got me that was tapped subtly but authoritatively way out in the river.

I felt some slight resistance, dropped a loop of line, and let it tighten against the reel before lifting the rod to set the hook. A pulsing resistance raced down the line as the unseen fish began to realize that the pretty little thing he just ate had a pointy end.

The fight… the fish… all memorable.
However, it was that subtle grab, like the kiss of a small child upon my fly, way out in the river, which shines forth brightly in my memories.

It is rumored that the famous steelhead angler Harry Lemire used to cut the point off his hooks if the fishing was good. He just wanted the grab. There was a point to his enjoyment, but not to his hook.

The grab… the moment of bright connection when our dreams meet the river, and fantasy becomes reality for a tiny but sweet moment in time.

1 comment:

Cutthroat Stalker (Scott) said...

Hey Erik!

I'm a "grab" kind of guy myself, although I like it on top of the water--I like to see what's grabbing my fly. I'm usually grateful for the long release, although I like at least a couple to come to hand so I can feel their smoothness and see the vibrant colors. I can imagine as I get older and closer to meeting the master tier, I'll chop the points off too.

I hope all goes well "casting a long line" (I hope there's some catching too).

-scott c