When a relationship is over, (even if before it really gets traction) there are specific reasons or logic cited in the closing arguments.
Or at least there should be.
Trying to articulate why things happen in fishing is far more complex.
Last week a friend and I got into a lot of fish right off the opening roll-cast. When my other buddies arrived, we crossed the river giving them the prime spots. It was raining, and pouring. They caught no fish and one even broke his five-weight fly rod in a tree.
I didn’t really know what to say. Reducing life to a line of clichéd statements rarely, if ever, works. Plus, we’re talking about a fishless day and a broken rod here.
I’ve been there. Last summer at the Dolly Hole on the Thorne River my buddy Steve the Guide was terrorizing cutthroats, rainbows, cuttbows and Dolly Varden at a pace I had never seen. The Thorne River is wide and slow in this spot. The bottom is gravel with a series of depressions where the fish stack up. I was fishing the bottom of the hole, Steve the top.
I switched to a prince nymph just like what he was using but caught nothing. Without saying anything, he let me have the hole by literally turning his back to fish an adjacent depression.
I repeatedly shot the prince nymph into the lazy current nearer the top of the hole and let it drift through.
Steve moved further and let me set up in the exact spot where he had been casting. Still it took 15 more minutes before I had my first hook-up. Before taking Steve’s spot I was drifting the nymph with the current as nymphing videos will instruct. Steve was casting into the fish, and stripping in past them, tail to head, against the current. I had logic, he had fish.
Saturday I started catching as soon as my pheasant tail hit the water. When the guy started to move down from the rock I prefer, I moved up. We crossed paths and talked. He was from Danville.
The conversation went where it usually does with fishermen. A river name is dropped which is followed immediately by a line of envious questioning, or mutual story sharing.
He played his ace — Alaska. I inquired deeper. Unbelievably, he spends a few days each fall staying at the Fireweed Lodge in Klawock, Alaska — my hometown.
We talked about Bob the owner and Steve the Cook’s remarkable culinary skills. We of course talked about my home river. I caught a ton of silver salmon last summer. He caught one. That sounds about right, as by the time he arrived in Klawock, the silver run had been over-taken by the chums and pinks. Finally, logic.
We returned to the present. He said he had caught a fish every third cast from my rock. After 10 minutes of friendly chatting, we essentially switched spots.
I was sure I’d be into fish in no time, but it took a lot of time even though I was fishing the same spot with the same pheasant tail pattern I had been nailing them with every time I go to my rock, regardless of whether or not I was there first.
The fishing was slow, but it could have been worse.
Monday, my buddy Kurt lost seven fish, tore four holes in his waders and the display screen in his GoPro camera went out. My other buddy Nate broke another fly rod, this time mid-cast. Yes, two trips, two fly rods broken and no fish. Inconceivable.
Usually after a bad week, the next one is fishy. It’s the expected ebb and flow, right? Not in fishing, and not for Nate.
Fishing rarely makes sense, usually breaks your heart, occasionally provides cathartic moments but is always different.
That’s why Nate and Kurt will be out there as soon as they can. Maybe next time they’ll be the ones trying to find those impossible words to console the desperate angler.
Maybe next time that angler will be me.
To contact Jeff Lund, email email@example.com.