The roads were fine. Everyone was once again making a big deal out of nothing. Somewhere over the past few years people have forgotten that they live in Upstate NY and that this is just winter. We call school days on account of two inches of snow, we declare snow emergencies when there might be some lake effect coming, we broadcast winter advisories… when the first and only warning we really needed is that this is NY, and yes, it’s winter. Those of us who still fish how and when we can all winter view it as a huge farce mostly. I guess we’re a dying breed. Fine with me. We’re all dying anyhow. May as well do it with a fly rod in your hand. Let’s get this over with I say.
I’ve got a bucket list for fishing like most anyone else does. And of course it’s not very realistic. What’s the point of having a list of fish you want to catch before you die if they’re completely normal and easy to find and catch? Goliath tiger fish in hippo infested waters. Taimen in Mongolian rivers that take months of planning and days of traveling just to get to. Brook trout in Labrador that weigh more than your children when they were born. Pike in remote Canadian lakes that feed on everything and anything because they can. Tarpon. Golden dorado. Arapaima. I’ll quit. You get the idea. It’s a list probably very similar to a lot of other angler’s lists. Only I’m about to get real. There’s a ninety-five percent chance that I’ll never fish for ninety-nine percent of these. It’s fun to have a bucket list full of crazy and exotic fish in faraway places, but to me that’s all it is. A fun list. It’s not realistic in the least. Unless National Geographic or some publisher knocks on my door and asks me to go on these adventures for them, which is even less realistic than the list itself, it’ll always just be a list in my head. Nothing more.
It’s time to get realistic. Come up with an angling bucket list that I have a chance of completing. Something I can see and touch in the world I live in.
There’s never enough time for fishing lately. But even though time on the water is more valuable than gold this time of year you can always find something to connect you to the waters and the fish once the work day is done and dinner has been eaten, once the kids have gone to bed, and for me, once the wife has turned on that godforsaken Hallmark Channel where every movie seems to have the same plot and the same two female lead actors. I know when she flips to that channel without even being in the room. I can only describe it as a disturbance in the force. It’s as if a million voices suddenly cry out in terror and are then suddenly silenced. But like I said, even though it’s dark before dinner and icicles hang from the eaves outside the windows there’s always a way to stay true to the cause. For one thing there’s fly tying, and for another there’s a never ending list of books filled with fishing stories.
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I’ll never admit defeat because of the seasons or the weather. But I will concede to the fact that come fall, the fishing does slow down a bit up here. It’s a fact of life living in the north east. We all deal with it in our own personal ways, but the one way most of us use the time to take our minds off the details that the sun has gone down before we even eat dinner and that we aren’t on the water is to tie flies. You might tie during the slow fishing season to refill fly boxes that slowly gained empty spaces during the busy fishing season. You might tie just because it still connects you to fly fishing. The idea that you might not be casting a fly rod everyday now but that you’re still supporting the act in other ways has its own way of keeping one’s sanity in check. Or, if you’re JP, you suggest tying with a group at a local establishment that has room for a few people to set up vices in an area off to the side somewhere… and serves beer.
I’m not exactly positive why I’m out here. I mean, I know why I loaded the canoe on the Jeep in the wind and pitch dark last night, and I know why I drove here straight from work. But I don’t know why, since I don’t expect to catch anything....