“Hope springs eternal in the human breast”
– Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man
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According to Greek mythology, Pandora actually held Hope in the box a little longer than the other so-called gifts. But eventually Hope did seep out, like the water that finds its way up through the Earth and beads up on the surface of impenetrable rocks.
The day after I fished the creeks at McCoy’s I slept extremely late, which is wildly out of character for me. Blame it on mental exhaustion, fresh mountain air, or perhaps contentment that comes only in summertime. Either way I awakened later than everyone else and quickly had to catch up, scramble my things together, and hit the road.
The Professor and I loaded up the truck and made our rounds to express gratitude and farewells. When we found Steve he was brimming over with enthusiasm. Apparently the anglers that were scheduled to fish the creeks that day had canceled. He wanted to take me back out and try for a fish.
I looked at The Professor…he was all for it. Steve looked at me…absolutely!
Back to the truck to grab my rod, pulled my new McCoy’s hat over my ponytail, and I was ready. In retrospect it was probably best I didn’t know I was going to fish that day. It would have given me too much time to over analyze my performance from the day before, which undoubtedly would have rattled me.
So once again, ignorance was bliss. And off we went.
Einstein once said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Hmmm, well that sounds a lot like fishing. That said, I’m not sure what I was expecting to happen on this second pass at the spring creeks. I had made some good casts the day before, and managed to keep my fly out of the bushes and the grass and Steve. I just wanted to maintain a similar level of performance, and not backslide into humiliation.
I traipsed along behind Steve, trying to keep up with his long strides. We landed at the head of this round pool at a pronounced bend in the creek. The water was very still and the sun awfully bright, so I felt as though I was looking at the fish through a clear magnifying glass. Just as the day before, there were several trout eating away, although this time they were facing me head-on.
I put a cast to one of the closer fish. The flows in this pool were so subtle, I began to doubt whether there was any current at all. With a few more casts I proved to myself that the water was in fact moving, just very very slowly. Once again, the fish had an eternity to analyze my fly. We changed bugs and changed positions and kept after it. Thank heavens for a little stack cast which helped me get just enough slack in the line as the fly would glide from me straight into the fish, seemingly in slow motion.
Nope. Refusal. No Thank You. Sorry Darlin. Uh-uh. Don’t Think So. Won’t Eat That. Shakin’ Off The Pitch.
The trout didn’t want my flies, but if they weren’t spooking and jumping ship for different water, then neither was I.
And then something happened that shifted things in my favor. They started eating like maniacs. Eating faster. Moving on bugs. Things were getting a little nutty at the all-you-can eat PMD buffet, and for the first time in two days, it looked like I might have a shot.
I slid one through there….man, that was close! Was that me? Who knows, get it back in there. Almost. It’s almost to him. He’s about to feed. And….
YES that was me STRIKE!! SET!! YES!! Holy sweet mother of spring creek goddess of all wisdom and everything that is holy thank you thank you thank you and please please please if there is any justice in this world do NOT let me FREAKING lose this fish!
The Professor was cheering, Steve was congratulating me. I wouldn’t look at either one of them while I worked this fish, I was scared I’d jinx it. My heart was beating so fast I thought it might crack right through my chest. Breathe, drink deep, tune them out, ignore that camera. It’s just you and a fish. Walk in the park. Done it a thousand times.
And just like that, I met my fish.
Whew! I was so relieved and excited, that my hands were shaking when I got it in. Steve and The Professor were over the moon and celebrating on my behalf. A quick picture and the fish was back from whence it came. Oh but the memory of that feeling remains, it’s with me now. I had never worked harder for a fish, perhaps I never will.
Cynics will say that of course I caught it eventually. It’s just a numbers game, shoot it through there enough and it will hit at some point. Perhaps. Or perhaps I fortuitously met up with an emotionally wounded trout with low self-esteem who suddenly went on a half-crazed eating binge that blinded its judgment. Hmm, perhaps that’s true too.
I understand both of these attitudes. Cynicism and pessimism run rampant in this world because they are easy to believe. After all, nine times out of ten life proves them to be right. But at the end of the day one plain and simple fact remains that challenges these negative theories. The one simple fact that I can cling to when things seem impossible…I caught the fish.
I caught the fish, I drank the wine, I basked in the scenery. New friendships were born from these spring creeks and others flourished. In the twenty or so hours that I spent on this beautiful Montana ranch I created memories that will travel with me through all the seasons ahead. And most importantly, if there is one thing I learned during my time at McCoy’s, it is to never give up hope. Because like these creeks, it springs eternal.
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This is the third and final post from my essay on these spring creeks. If you’re interested in fishing at McCoy’s, feel free to contact Steve at www.mccoyspringcreeks.com to schedule a visit.