I will be totally honest with you, I’m not great at mending my line. Give me an upstream mend…put a mend in it for me…get that line above your fly…don’t move the fly…too much mend…too little mend.
Argh. I have never truly mastered the finesse of the mend. Too much, too little. But somewhere along the way I learned the reach cast (I’m not too bad at it actually) so I lean on the reach cast which, in my mind, is much a sexier version of the mend.
That said, I know deep down it really is important to conquer the good old-fashioned mend, and not lean on the sweeping dramatic entrance of a reach cast. The mend is much more real life. It deals with the cards you’re dealt, the cast you’ve made. Make an adjustment, make the necessary edits. No surprise in my college creative writing classes I loathed the editing process. I like to get it on the page right the first time or simply tear it up and start over.
Not a terribly mature approach to writing, much less a sophisticated approach to fishing. Starting over? Picking up that line too much spooks the fish, not to mention your fly spends less time on the water. So it is with humility and hopefully a tinge of maturity that I recognize the need to mend. The need to fine-tune, not start over. The need to subtly edit, to shift gears, course correct, and of course, eliminate drag.
Drag. I was definitely dragging when I trotted off to Montana this Memorial Day Weekend. I was way stressed, wound tight and floating about as well as a water logged dry fly after eight hours of being drenched through the river.
But I was fired up to fish.
Friday we met up with Eric, co-owner of Sunrise Fly Shop in Melrose and our guide for the day on the Big Hole. We’d meet Eric a few times before but it was our first chance to fish with him and I am here to tell you, we are BIG fans of Eric…BIG fans of his business partner Ryan…BIG fans of Ryan’s super charming and lovely wife Katie…and BIG fans of Sunrise Fly Shop. Run don’t walk if you’re thinking Big Hole. These guys love these rivers in Southwest Montana and they are hellbent on delivering clients an all-around topnotch fishing nirvana. They are fun, they are professional and they are plain good people.
So despite the 38 degree temps and all day rain, our enthusiasm wasn’t dampened in the slightest for the day of fishing ahead…
It was a perfect debut for my 2010 trout season. Eric was a good coach, giving me some things to tweak with my cast, and of course, working on my mend. He really focused on the mend…so I have taken the message to heart and am dedicated to improving the mend in 2010. (Although please note I am really tired and have no intention of editing this post and will most likely hit ‘publish’ without checking for typos.)
All that 360-improvement aside, we caught fish. We had action pretty much all day on streamers, san juan worms, and dries. We even hit a pod of risers later in the afternoon and caught four nice fish on a small purple dry – we all know how much I love those purple patterns.
At one point in the day I was casting and mending away, trying to keep my fingercicles from breaking off, when out of the corner of my eye I saw a horse galloping along the bank among the trees. Except it wasn’t a horse, it was a giant St Bernard eagerly trying to connect with us. I kid you not, this dog followed us for at least six river miles, swimming back and forth across the river as we tried to avoid it.
This loving little beast kept screwing up our banks – so instead of telling me to mend, Eric was busy yelling, “Sit! Stay! Back! Bad Dog!” We could not believe it when we reached the takeout and he was still on our trail.
I was worried he was trying to let us know that someone needed rescuing. It was dangerously cold out there if you weren’t properly geared – hell it was cold in layers of gear! Then I started to worry that we were the ones that needed to be rescued and we didn’t know it yet. The St Barnard remains an odd element from the whole day.
Despite the St Barnard, we caught fish. Despite the frigid temps and the fact the river rose over 500 cfs while we were on it, we caught fish. When the Big Hole is on the rise it’s usually the kiss of death fishing-wise. But we kissed back. And caught fish.
Unfortunately, I also caught a cold. Thank heavens I have more fishing ahead this summer because after Friday on the Big Hole with our new buddy Eric, I was out of commission for the weekend.
But the trip was about more than just fishing. We connected, sometimes unexpectedly, with fun friends. While running errands in Dillon we ran into Miles Nolte and his girlfriend Tessa.
We had a very special and entertaining post-fishing meal with my dad who was out there on a separate fishing trip with my uncle and some good family friends. It was a treat to share war stories from the frigid day on the river. When my dad ordered a draft beer they brought a bottle and explained that the tap had frozen over. Pretty much sums up our day of spring fishing on the Big Hole.
Even though I was on death’s doorstep by Saturday night, I pulled it together because I couldn’t possibly miss out on dinner at Bandito’s in Virginia City. The joint was packed but we were able to nestle into our favorite spot at the bar and really enjoyed catching up with
Scott, Justin and Stacy.
Justin aided in my quest for health and fixed me a few rounds of gingerale & bitters that I sucked down eagerly – they did make me feel better! The Professor picked his favorite Carne Asada while I was delighted with the special pan-seared halibut and pitch-perfect asparagus with fingerling potatoes.
Bandito’s was my last outing in the 406. I was spiraling fast. So I spent the entire day Sunday on the couch. The Professor spent a few hours wading the Ruby while I watched endless episodes of America The Story Of Us…The Real Housewives of NYC…some saccharine chick flicks on Oxygen which made me cry…and (the highlight) Operation Petticoat. Damn that movie gets better and better every time I watch it.
Fishing, friends, family, healthy food, medecine, rest, bad tv, good tv. All the remedies of the weekend seemed to work in concert because I have returned to Austin feeling much better. Nothing like a little time in the 406 to edit, to shift gears, course correct, and of course, eliminate the drag of every day life. My load seems lighter, my attitude refreshed, and my cold is heading for the hills.
I am on the mend.