Yesterday we were taught our place.
The morning was much colder than it had been. A balmy 70 degrees the previous days sent our hearts into wild water and hopes of little trouts full of life. I guess that warm water will do that to an angler. Waking up to a hard frost and much colder temperatures, however, did not deter us from our wild dreams.
They should have.
We arrived at one of the most beautiful stretches of water I've ever been lucky enough to experience. It's full of life around every corner. From the various waterfalls to laurels, still thriving and as beautiful as they are in the summer.
Every pool we came to, "there's got to be a trout in there, look at how perfect the water is!"
Well, there may have been trout in those gorgeous pools, but we were not rewarded for our efforts, we did not get to meet one.
Maybe the drastic change in temperature was the culprit. Perhaps is was the improper choice of fly. As an angler you're never really completely certain, it just is what it is.
We gathered our pride, trudged out of the forest and drove the short distance to the Davidson, to hopefully avoid being completely skunked.
One. One slinky, but powerful brown.
Today the wind is howling outside. I can just imagine my fly line tangled in all directions, flys hitting me in the face. I cringe at the thought. Yesterday I was not happy with the outcome of the day, but today I'm thankful for it.
Sure, it wasn't an amazing day, but it was a day spent outdoors. It's one more day that I get to spend in the wild and not cooped up in a building, one more in a line of many.
For that I am lucky. For that one, single, spunky brown, I am lucky.
This year, Christmas was not celebrated in typical fashion at our house. We decided that gifts were basically arbitrary at this point since there's really not one thing that any of us needs. We didn't spend the day making a Christmas turkey and gorging, in fact, we ate taco salad for dinner. Instead, we opted outside.
My parents have never been fly fishing before. It's been years since they even went fishing with traditional tackle. So, on Christmas, we introduced them to this sport that we love so much.
Fish were caught. No one fell in, nobody drowned. They want to keep doing it.
We spent a day making real memories, something that can't be purchased in any store, something that can't be taken away.
It really is a wonderful life.
Yesterday was the beginning of the Winter Solstice and mother nature knew it. Her light shone bright and glaring for the few hours she had. The wind was harsh and bitter, but the sun warmed you quickly. It was a perfect combination for the first day of winter.
We were lucky enough to feel tugs often, but few made it to the net. The fish seemed to be aware of the trick nature was playing. Good enough to keep you there, but with just a touch of bitter discomfort to round it all out.
Winter makes you tougher as an angler.
When you're surrounded by the "comforts" of life it's good to get away from that. To remember that life is not always comfortable. You will not always win, you will not always land 60 fish in a day. Your feet will not always be warm and you will not always enjoy your entire day outdoors.
But, you will learn to enjoy different things.
The way the sun warms your face and you leave the stream with new freckles.
Multitudes of bugs floating off the surface in appreciation of the contradicting weather.
How tough your hands become, but still able to tie on a size 20 dry fly.
The way the birds sing and how much more crisp it sounds.
Healthy, happy, firm trout. No longer fatigued by the warm weather, lack of water and minimal bug life.
If you look hard enough you'll find that the winter solstice offers just as much as any other season, if not more. For it creates you and may teach you more than any other time of the year.
So, enjoy it, learn from it, come away better because of it.
Now, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.
#fishermanmonday. I noticed this hashtag this morning on Denver Outfitters Instagram account. I liked, it, thought it was super catchy, I decided to run with it.
By the way, if you've never heard of Denver Outfitters, they're a super cool company with a really amazing story. It's worth the five minutes of your day it takes to check out their site.
But, I digress...
I was a late bloomer, in all aspects of life. I spent my life drawn to nature, to the conservation of her, but was never sure about how to accomplish that. Then there were societal expectations, friends, and I pushed who I was naturally away. Tried to "fit in" with appearances and job choices, things to make me look complete in a world of social media comparisons.
So, cue Jacob. He came into my life at a time where I felt like I was literally drowning, trying to conform to someone who I was never meant to be. Now, cue fly fishing. No, I never thought about the sport before Jacob came along and even after we'd been on a number of adventures I still didn't really want anything to do with it. Until the moment that I did.
Thankfully, four years later, I've kind of grasped the art, in the sense that any of us really grasp it. At the very least I've fallen in love with it. I've found my place and myself because of it. Yes, Jacob introduced me to the art and that's something I'll always be grateful for, but he's also allowed me to become my own person in it. I've developed my own techniques, my own gear of choice, my own favorite fish. Honestly, on the water, we're as different as night and day. Some days he schools me and some days I had him his tail. It works.
So, today, I am especially thankful for it. I'm thankful for the introduction and all the lessons. I'm thankful for not being made into a clone, but being allowed to become my own person within this world. For finding a place to be me and discovering an outlet for all the passion and creativity that was pent up for so long.
Ergo, my #fishermanmonday.
The to-do lists have gotten longer. I've been trying to fit everything in. Finding time to get outside, be free.
This means fishing in places that are "easily accessible." I hate easy access.
There are generally too many people and sore lipped fish.
Yesterday, Jacob and I visited one of those streams and the day began with that easy feeling. We met disfigured hatchery trout and saw catalog fishermen. It was time to wander off the beaten path.We headed downstream, further and further away from the recreation area.
The reward was great.
Sometimes life will get hectic, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, for me, it's good; but, you have to find a balance. Some days it's going somewhere close to home, but taking the time to find your own way. Understanding that the moments you're taking to "get away" are just as important as everything on your calendar.
So, travel off the beaten path.
Seek out the trout you haven't met.
Get away from the masses.
Smell the earth and stay up late to howl at the moon.
Your soul will be filled and the reward will be great.
I've been feeling creatively burnt out. The idea that I'm squandering my time and my days has been looming overhead. And so, I try too hard. Which inevitably leads to sloppy work, a forced product, I'm not proud of and am forced to throw out and start over. It's a vicious cycle.
Luckily, I have an escape, a place to go, forget and come back inspired. We associate water with cleansing, a fresh start. Whether it be in a typical daily ritual or in a spiritual sense.
Evey time I'm able to stand in the middle of the river and just be in that moment, I feel renewed. Even the sound of a running river is cleansing to the soul.
The waters have been here longer than we have. They have been teaching, growing, and adapting forever; and their inhabitants with them.
They persevere despite man's best efforts. They continue to renew us and sustain us.
I carry the river with me long after I leave. I remember her sound and smell and feel. I allow her to infiltrate my mind and renew my soul. I am of the waters and am haunted by her nightly.
“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.
I am haunted by waters.”
― Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories
Some of you may have noticed the new "sock" page under Of Glass and Grass that was added recently.
Ah, the rod socks...
When I say that this started out of necessity and grew, it's the honest truth. But, I'm so thankful for all of you out there that have ordered my socks. Seriously, thank you!
There's something about being able to work with your hands and create.
I view making rod socks for custom builders kind of like being a framer. In order to be a good framer you have to be able to compliment the artwork without taking away from it, only enhancing it. My hope is to be able to do the same with my socks.
Today I went downstairs to the "rod and sock shop" to make a few new ones. A couple were orders and a few I made just to have some ready made on hand.
Turn on sewing machine.
Plug in iron.
Bump up the tunes.
As I stated above I've got a couple ready made socks currently available. One is a dark green with black thread and off-white accent, made for an 8 foot, 3 piece rod.
It's $25.00. Free shipping (in the continental US).
Please send me an e mail if you're interested.
"Sometimes all it takes is a tiny shift of perspecitive to see something familiar in a totally new light."
Jacob is a fly fishing guide with a passion for conservation and brook trout. He is an accomplished rod builder and restorationist.
Jillian is an outdoor photographer and blogger, using her voice for Public Lands and Cold Water Conservation. She specializes in trying to out fish jacob whenever she puts the camera down.