The sunlit day was beautiful. I found myself fishing in the cold water (35 degrees F.) of a Pennsylvania river where the trout seemed few and far between. I did manage to capture and release a first brown trout of the season and, later, lost a large rainbow that was activated by a minor hatch of stoneflies, having chased a drifting nymph.
Wildlife was on the move. I’d seen a group of killdeer by the river road. The song sparrows, newly arrived from a warmer climate, caroled from the alder crowns, and rusty blackbirds, notable for their gleaming eyes and squeaky phrasings, mingled with other avian migrants as I poked along the water’s edge. A mink and I surprised each other at close range– the mink hunting for physical sustenance, and the angler seeking a spiritual boost.
The next day, on New York’s Genesee, was another warm one in the 60s, but the water still retained the temperature of snow-melt. Even though the trout were scarce, the solitude felt special and complete until I saw a jogger pacing toward me on the rail trail. He seemed focused on the ground ahead of him, as if he hadn’t seen me, but I heard him sharply say, “A good day for it!” as he passed.
I was left with an impression like the words from a poet friend who wrote (in a poem called Fly-Fishing) “Their gear is the best sort of technology,/ light and quiet, tools for inserting oneself/ into a place without disturbing it.” I thought of my fish rod as a tool. I raised it for a backward cast of line then brought it forward once again, happy that the river made no disparaging comment to be heard.
I was soon to meet up with an angling pal downriver. Waiting for Tim to get there from his work responsibilities, I switched my graphite instrument for one of my favorite split-cane rods. Assembling that newer tool, I noticed a serious problem. The lower ferrule had begun to separate at the glue line of its silken windings.
Tim arrived, and I had him inspect the situation. He had once constructed an entire split-bamboo from culm and all the basic ingredients, so I welcomed his diagnosis. Sure enough, it was a good day for it– catching the problem prior to casting with the rod again and inviting certain disaster.
That evening I contacted my rod builder and was relieved. I could ship the rod to Virginia, and since I hadn’t been at fault for damages, I wouldn’t have to mortgage the house to have “the best sort of technology” repaired. It looked like the only real cost for me would be measured by the time lost in not casting it a while.
As for the fishing, let’s just say… no catch this time. I had taken up the graphite once again, and Tim plied one of his bamboo rods. We waded slowly through the quiet evening river, keeping our profiles low and unobtrusive, eyes alert for stonefly rises, but resigning ourselves to “nothing much going on.”
That “nothing” can be a positive notion at times, especially when considering its contrast in the mayhem of society and in the disheartening destruction that occurs in our environment both near and far. This night I was glad for the peace of nothingness and how it might have been expressed most favorably by a passing jogger who exclaimed, “A good day for it!”
Good for fishing, running, making observations, and catching up with our springtime dreams before they slip away.