Big Trout, Good Marriage

I know what you’re thinking– trout and marriage do not/cannot mix. Adding a trout fanatic to a “normal person” in a marriage plan is like tossing gasoline into fire. But wait. Let’s talk about the marriage of extremes, or of polar opposite conditions, and how they sometimes intermix quite happily.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Two of my favorite cities in America are Sante Fe, New Mexico and Ithaca, New York. They are small urban centers, very different from each other, that possess an amazing cultural and natural diversity, and they seem to come together in my addled brain as one. For now, though, let’s take a look at Ithaca, which I’m more familar with than Santa Fe.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis small city is located in central New York on the southern shore of Cayuga Lake. It’s named for the classic Greek island of Ithaca, and it houses both Cornell University and Ithaca College. Its earliest known inhabitants were Iroquois peoples, and today this city of gorges, waterfalls and renowned beauty leans toward liberalism and the Democratic Party. So far so good…

But then I came along to stir things up and to fly-fish in the city. I caught almost OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAnothing, other than a 27-inch brown… And actually, I didn’t catch that trout. I was only walking upstream toward Ithaca Falls when I saw an angler battling a large fish along the bank. When the fellow asked for help in landing the trout, I quickly responded.

He led the brown trout, obviously a spawner that had swum up from the depths of Cayuga Lake, toward me in the middle of the stream where I scooped it into my net, took a photo of the fish, and then removed the angler’s Egg-Sac from the jaw. Well pleased with the catch, we set the hefty brown trout back into the creek and watched it swim away.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHelping out the angler was the best that I could do that day, and I was fine with that, although admittedly, I’d have been more jazzed with a similar work-out from a large brown trout or a landlocked salmon, both of which are found in the autumnal city limits if enough rain has encouraged a run from the lake.

The water was low and the fishing pressure fairly intense below the waterfall. The weather was rainy, windy, cold, and miserable– great for fishing, if only the creek had a stronger flow.

I had come close to being more fortunate than I was. I’d been in the stream only minutes OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthat Saturday when I hooked a large trout or landlocked that took me for a walk until the streamer came flying back alone. The fish may or may not have been fair-hooked. In any case, later on, when I was closer to the falls, I was releasing a small rainbow trout when I turned my attention to the cliffs in back of me.

I saw a wedding party on the rocks. I watched the bride move around in her white gown (with no jacket or protective shawl) and who must have been freezing out there in the 38 degree mist, among a couple dozen other folks– mostly gray-suited fellows and a handful of adoring female attendees.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThat’s when it hit me– only here would I see such a sudden blending of opposing elements, like some harmonious convergence on the earthly plane. Wham! A marriage of man and woman, city and country, gorge and avenue, stream and lake, fish and no fish, helplessness and helpfulness, hiss and roar, summer and winter, fisherman and jogger, trout and matrimony, frozen foot and blood-red heart.

Stuff like this used to happen to me in places like San Francisco or Athens, Greece, butOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA seldom in upstate New York. The young folks were getting married and an old guy in leaky waders was trying to catch a fish in the cold. Most of the fish were probably staging in the lake below, waiting for the flush of heavy rains to bring about the marriage of present time and future possibilities…

And for a moment or two, it all made sense in Ithaca.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


About rivertoprambles

Welcome to Rivertop Rambles. This is my blog about the headwaters country-far afield or close to home. I've been a fly-fisher, birder, and naturalist for most of my adult life. I've also written poetry and natural history books for thirty years. In Rambles I will mostly reflect on the backcountry of my Allegheny foothills in the northern tier of Pennsylvania and the southern tier of New York State. Sometimes I'll write about the wilderness in distant states, or of the wild places in the human soul. Other times I'll just reflect on the domestic life outdoors. In any case, I hope you enjoy. Let's ramble!
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Big Trout, Good Marriage

  1. Mike says:

    I really enjoyed this post on so many levels. I assume it’s aimed intent. Did not expect to see that bride on the banks and I can only imagine your surprise when you did!

  2. Ken G says:

    Indeed, nice post, but I still have your last one in my head and am trying to imagine you in a boat.

  3. Les Kish says:

    Certainly and impressive setting for a wedding. By the way, ditto on the boat thing.

    I had a similar encounter this spring while fishing a nearby creek. I was at my car, scraping lunch together. A couple, who had been lounging stream side, strolled over. One of them announced “we just got engaged.” I congratulated them. “No, really, we just now got engaged!”, said the girl. Beaming, she held out her hand to show off her ring. “Well, okay, congratulations really” I said. I asked if they had a camera. The future groom pulled out his cell phone. They posed and I snapped a few photos for them. Quite the day. It was a bit warmer than the day you saw the bride and groom.

    • Thanks Les! Your story reminds me of the one told by my father-in-law back when he was a campground host in the Rockies some years ago. He saw a young lady sitting by herself on a blanket near a creek and, on asking how she was doing, the woman said she was recently married and that her new husband was off fly-fishing on the stream somewhere. So, congrats, and how long had she been married? (Here comes the good part)… The woman said something like, “We’ve been married for about 2 hours!”

      • Les Kish says:

        Oh boy, what can I say? How about this? My wife and I were married on a weekday morning. We were out in the mountains bear hunting that afternoon! What else do you do in Montana in May?

  4. Brent says:

    How’s this for another level of contrast: A new beginning for two people in the cold end of the year.

  5. On your second response here, Les, all I can say is… uh, can’t think of a thing!!

  6. I like your photos seems like a good spot to fish as well as beautiful scenery especially if people want to get married their

    • Thanks for the comment, Berlin… It is a nice place to fish in spring and autumn, and the scenery is great for such events. Feel free to check out similar posts here on RR, and drop by often.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.