It was a boom year this past winter and that meant working long hours and weekends.Looking back, it was hard keeping all of the threads together. Family, work, paper trails, other commitments. It all needs time. A loose end here and there is not the matter so long as the house is made of brick.
The company I contract to, wanted me to bill for the extra time put in but I wanted the time back in my pocket. Two weeks. Lots of time. Time for ... hmm? What were the things I used to do, who was the man I once was?
Eyes front, head and hands to the task. A decade and now my boys are growing strong, the youngest is six this year. Six and sixty. The ages of independence. As a family, we gain greater mobility with each passing season.
Spring break up came late this year and with it came my two weeks. I didn’t know what to do with this leisure and didn’t get off my butt really for the first week, just some odd chores around the house.
My thoughts turned to the river of my youth and I remembered well the freedoms found there. That the river flowing through my city was a world famous fishery drew a parallel too irresistible to follow. My fly rod has been in storage (lost I had thought) pretty much since I got off the plane from Argentina, but find it I did and made my way down to the Bow River.
The day was bright and the water cold as I stepped into the past and was a young man once more. A swirl of breeze on the water, spring fluff dancing in the air, anticipation the key emotion as I cast to the edge of the main current where a trout might lie.
They say a river is like a woman. Just when you think you know her, she changes. An old mans tale, that. A river, I can understand the change and see the reason for it. Like just about anything complicated and diverse, women included, a river takes time to get to know her. And so with the first cast came not a fish, but a window.
Every day save one in that second week I was there on the river, casting from the bank or wading to where I could cast to the head of a pool. Between four and seven fish each day I caught, browns and rainbows, the largest maybe half a pound in size.
My sons became caught up in the excitement they could see in my eye and a fishing trip was panned and planned for the approaching weekend. On the Saturday we had an outing and barbecue with the cub pack and so on Sunday I, the boys, and one of their friends found ourselves on the banks of the river.
Anxious to be out there myself, I set up four spin rods to bottom fish using nymph flies to set out for the boys. A chance of success, at least, and as the boys are just learning to cast this method allowed for a tangle free experience while freeing Dad to fish rather than untangle lines. Teaching will come later. Right now the fever is with me and the fervor will lessen only with each cast into the dark calming waters. Fifteen minutes later and the Bow opened her doors to me. A light take on the fly but when the hook was set the reel started its screeeeeeeeeeee as the trout broke water and then stripped line out to the backing. Two more runs and the rainbow made way to the shore to have its picture recorded. Two foot in length, a head almost as big as my dogs’ head. Skinny from the long winter but still well over five pounds in weight. I can’t see the grin on my face as I am the one with the camera, but it is recorded too in the memory of the moment.
I put my fly rod up and away. Now was the time to encourage my young fishermen, having set the proud example. The example I set them was not so much catching a fish as the exhilaration surrounding the catching of a fish.
You can stay young forever, but only for a time, now and then. Here and there.
May be, on the river.
FOOT & CHAIN