Fishing was out of the question this weekend. There was too much to do. Jacob had a guide trip. Winter had finally hit Western North Carolina after months of being in the 60s. There was no point and no time anyway. I had geared myself for being stir crazy and bored. This is life, and you don't always get to go fishing, unfortunately.
I got the call at 10:30 to pack on the layers, we were going fishing.
Jacob's clients were unable to get out of the B&B where they were staying. There was snow on the ground, a whopping 2 inches, but in the south, those are grounds to stay in and out of the blizzard.
We arrived to find no one else in sight, despite the fact that it was nearly 12:30 by the time we found our way to the river and most of the snow was already history.
The gin clear water called for long leaders and short casts, but the trout were stacked up everywhere and on fire.
My weekend of "great un-expectations" turned into an unforgettable one.
Like fishing, you never know what life is going to throw your way. Whether it's good or bad, and so you take it in stride because you know right upstream something great is waiting for you.
I first heard the term "Boo Widow" on our blog just about a year ago. I had no idea what it meant, and so I decided to google the phrase. I was left even more confused and slightly offended.
Don't google it.
Later on that night I shared it with Jacob, and he explained that it was a term for wives/girlfriends who have been left by the wayside for the love of bamboo. He tried to convince me that I was not one of these women, but I knew better.
There is no doubt in my mind that I am a Boo Widow.
But, that's ok. I'm even a little bit proud of the term.
You see, Jacob is not going out and having adventures without me, I get to tag along on every one.
He hasn't "traded me in" for anything better, he's simply found an art form that he loves and his fondness shows.
I'm privileged enough to be able to watch a stick of bamboo become a fly rod. Get to see the horrific vintage rods come home and leave a couple of months later restored to their original beauty.
I know what a ferrule wrap is, the difference in guides, what goes into making a reel seat or grip. I now understand the differences in hardware's and tapers and how to scarf a tip. I've acquired quite the education and a pretty impressive vocabulary to boot, which makes me appear a whole lot more intelligent than I am.
I've even been able to find my little corner of the rod building world through my rod socks. I've had the privilege of meeting and working with some incredibly talented builders that I would never have had the opportunity to.
Jacob just recently finished restoring a South Bend rod. Right now he's rewrapping a few guides on a vintage fiberglass, and I'm preparing to sew up some socks, all because I get to be a Boo Widow.
"...In a college town you meet some writers and some fly fisherman and settle into learn the respective crafts. You've been writing since high school and fishing since before you can remember, but it turns out you know less about either than you thought you did. On the other hand, you're not entirely surprised to find that success in both disciplines depends on patience, persistence, diligence and attention to detail. These were never your strong points, but you vow to change. You publish here and there in literary magazines for bragging rights, but no money... You also manage to catch some trout. In the grand scheme of things, these are not enormous accomplishments, but they make you inordinately happy.
-John Gierach, All Fisherman Are Liars
Over the past month I've had the privilege of working with some amazing rod builders and creating some incredibly unique rods socks! This has really been a phenomenal experience and I'm looking forward to more builders and more socks.
Thanks to the design initiative one builder had, I'm now offering both flannel and flannel lined socks as well. They were such a great pleasure to work on and really add a uniquely vintage look.
Flannel lined socks start out at $35.00 a piece.
The traditional, un-lined socks start out at $25.00 a piece.
Discounts are given for multiple orders or for builders.
I'm currently taking orders for this month.
A special thanks to all the builders out there, y'all have been great!
Please feel free to send me an e mail
or fill out the form below
It was the best of days.
65 in January.
We literally chased trouts downstream all day.
Not one broke off.
Take note; to bend to life, chase it, and not break.
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.
You wake up, it's still pitch black out. You can hear the rain pouring down outside.
Drink coffee. Grab fishing gear. Bundle up. Make sure you are as waterproof as you can be.
You leave the house and head out. Sure it's wet and cold, but the fish are already wet and cold, so it really doesn't matter.
You arrive at a soft, still, run; bubbling from what appears to be rain. The closer you get, the subtle differences between a raindrop hitting the surface and trout feeding on the surface becomes apparent. Every so often you can see bright, yellow tails break the surface, taunting you and making you even more aware of their presence.
Every cast is an effort in futility. Size 24 dry flys are no match for the mighty raindrop.
It's an excruciating process, one you only participate in if you are truly, certifiably crazy. But you will be rewarded for your mad routine, with gold, in the form of a brown trout or two. So, you continue this crazy pattern until your hands are so cold and wet you can no longer set the hook. You warm yourself with good conversation and beer and go at it again, only to repeat this pattern as well.
Eventually, you decide that you're soaked and good conversation can only go so far to warm you, the car heater does a much better job. You make your sojourn back to the car, soaked and tired and slightly buzzed. You may look broken down and smell like a wet dog, but you leave knowing that you are worth your weight in gold.
"The upper Davidson along the hatchery resembles a deeply shaded ditch. That said, every lie holds browns and rainbows, and they're all huge. ... This is fly-fishing-only, catch-and-release water - only you ain't doing the releasing."
-John Ross, Trout Unlimited's Guide To America's 100 Best Trout Streams
Thanks, John, no truer words have been spoken about the hallowed Davidson.
There’s a brief moment in angling when everything comes together. It’s the moment where you meet the fish you’ve been dancing with for seconds or hours and then let him slip away. Truly, it is the briefest of encounters, but it is the most magical of the whole event.
I get a lot of flack from those around me who aren’t fly anglers about my stance on catch and release. To them, the trout is meat, a trophy, possibly both. The trout serves a “purpose” in life, nothing more, nothing less. This is ok, I suppose. I just like to think of myself as slightly more saintly than those others.
To me it’s that instant when you let him swim out of your hand, slap the water explicitly with his tail, possibly never to see him again, that is the defining moment. Because you see, it defines you as an angler in that flash. If you really think about it, it causes you to question why. Why wouldn’t you eat something you worked so hard for? You do have to eat. Why wouldn’t you want the fish hanging on your wall? You may never catch one this size again. Do you simply release the fish because that’s what the culture, the regulations tell you to do? Why?
You do it because that moment may happen again. And again.
It may happen in the same pool or possibly a completely different river. You may be able to meet this same fish in a different season of his life. In a different scenario where you’ve both grown. You may meet again on a number 14 dry fly, rather than a squirmy worm, both older and wiser, but still coming together.
And so, one day, this compassionate culture of pinching barbs, wetting hands, defiantly making sure that this paraphyletic creature with a brain the size of a pea is perfectly unharmed becomes who you are, totally and completely. There’s no questioning why or even considering another alternative, and that’s ok, that’s just who you’ve become. Because of those brief moments that changed everything, redefined life and generally made you a much more saintly person.