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Just seven more casts
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­ I’m a seven last-casts type of guy.

I set certain conditions that hopefully will qualify as excuses to stay riverside, or contrastingly provide reasonable closure.

Sometimes the criteria is demanding: “Last cast unless I hook one or get a bite’.

Others, less optimistic: “Okay, last cast unless I see a fish.”

Either way usually works out to roughly seven casts.

Some would think the perfect end to a day on the water would be netting a fish, but that could also indicate the bite is back on, so why leave when things are heating up?

Though at times, waiting until you catch a fish can be an unbearable endeavor.

Saturday afternoon was one of those days you catch a good amount of fish but the one that sticks out is the 2-footer that you didn’t catch. Since you have caught plenty, there is no Ahab-ian response to that big smart fish so you can leave it be, and allow feeding your own stomach to supersede lying to fish about feeding theirs.

I was working the narrowing inlet back toward my truck when a tree branch with a tail chased my lure. I had no intention of doing anything more than cast as I walked back, but that huge rainbow made me stop. I figured, after seven casts, that if I wasn’t stupid by then, it wasn’t going to be stupid just to mix it up, plus I was tired and hungry, so I left.

I cleaned up a bit back at the room, accidentally using the scented shampoo which made my hair smell like flower bed extract — a sharp contrast to the fish slime and body odor offered by my jacket, then walked a mile to dinner.

Bothered only by the low calls of birds I peered west in the dying sunlight, past the remains of a chimney built in 1862 by a man that never expected me to be there one day reading about what he built while my phone lets me know someone sent me an email.

“Sorry,” I said — just in case.

Not that he’d be offended by the vibration in my pocket more than the fact that what’s left of his ranch is now surrounded by houses that are only semi-discrete in hiding the income bracket of the owners. His place is now an afterthought for most, a pillar of the past worn by generations and witness to the death of the frontier.

Much like the structure itself, maple and oak leaves clung out of sheer loyalty to the tips of twigs so small and delicate the foliage appeared to hover tortuously close to being lost.

After an afternoon of hiking up and down the steep incline of the shore at New Melones, I was void of the energy to feel much but relaxed.

There did seem to be some gravity in the moment, but I decided not to get too emotional over a stack of rectangular rocks, because that’s all they are — a reminder of a past we can access only through stories, books and imagination.

They were the times of fee-less tree chopping for Christmas and before sections of the foothills were flooded by the damming of every river up and down the Sierra Nevada.

I can’t pretend to know what it was like to endure the murderous intensity of winter nature that would warrant such a chimney or before nice little kastmasters that catch trout in bunches.

So rather than soak myself in the inconsequential as I chewed on roasted duck I thought about the trout I caught and what would have happened if I had stayed for one more cast.

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