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New fishing best part of new year

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POSTED January 5, 2011 2:33 a.m.
I think I am over the New Years Eve thing.

Not that I want 2010 to be a Ground Hog year or that I don’t look forward to pinning back another month on the Alaska calendar mom gives me for Christmas, but the spectacle of the thing — the excuse for debauchery before an attempt to recall it all in the form of a resolution that lasts 17 days — is old.

I’ve been to Times Square during an ordinary day and it was suffocating. To stand there spooning thousands of people that may or may not have control of their bowels isn’t on my bucket list.

I’ve already done and tired with the big night thing.
For the millennium I was in Washington D.C., as a spark ran down the length of the reflecting pool, up the scaffold surrounding the Washington Monument and manifested into a sky-full of choreographed explosions.

I’ve done Las Vegas, Tucson, even Manteca, and can say that none of those moments will be ones I look back upon and say, “My life would not have been the same had I not been there.”

If anything, the Vegas trip solidified my desire to never enter its city limits again.

So I missed the ball dropping this year, but didn’t really miss it.

Instead, I went to bed early so I could start the year at a place that provides deeper satisfaction, the Stanislaus River.

I’ve been there, and on dozens of West Coast rivers since I was young, but I honestly cannot think of a better place to start a new year than wading into a swift, fish-hiding current.

I’ve paid tribute to humanity and the cultural phenomenon that is champagne toasts when the calendar rolls, but paying homage to Nature is downright cathartic. Nature always keeps it promise to be there, be grand and be waiting for whenever I lose track of what’s important or think too highly of myself.

It’s good to be reminded of how small I am in the shadows of the Sierra Nevada, Rocky, or Coastal Mountains of Alaska, to get a brief reprieve from shenanigans in favor of purity. Plus, I think the river likes it when I slip and almost face-plant like I did Saturday.

It was with this frame of mind that I started 2011 at a spot that resembled a nymphing theme park with its variety of runs, cut banks, and currents varying in intensity.

Pools swirled behind high rocks, and spilled over to join the trail-cutting effort then slide toward the wider, slower parts in the valley. The river was flowing at three times the level of what it was in October when I last fished it with any regularity, displacing fish to areas nearly impossible to fit a dry or drift a nymph.

Casting had to be precise and line-mending constant when crossing over currents. The fish were still there amid the churning water, but many spots look fishy just because the water is high.

Had it been another day there might have been frustration, but Saturday the ultimate result was how I started the year, not whether or not the quest was a success.

When things calm down the regular spots will produce and I will be happy. Just as the excitement of the new year will fade into routine that is unique to this segment of 365 days and will never be exactly repeated.

This year, I didn’t need an 11,000-pound ball to remind me this year could be great, but maybe next year.

To contact Jeff Lund, e-mail

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