The Spring comes on slow here in the mountains. The headwaters of the Yakima River slowly wake, with fits of runoff that redistribute silt, gravel, and nutrients throughout the river. Already the Canadian Geese are about the riverbanks finding mates, making nests, and laying eggs. Getting rather protective, so watch your step. The Eagles frequent the budding trees, the smell of new growth in the thickets and forests greets me every morning I find myself riverside. While clients gear up and chat about the basketball game or how work was last week, I take deep breaths through my nose, losing myself in the smell of spring, and the sound of running water at my feet.
The spring brings about big fish. Which is the hope most anglers have when I shake their hands in the morning. I make it a point to enjoy the little things that some people miss while riverside. I do my best to point them out, but I find myself selfishly reveling in them while others are so focused on trout. The trout will come…I become distracted with the life around me, the sounds and breaths that river life has. The angler in me gets the better of me.
The things that steal my attention: The dance of two male geese fighting over a mate, the pairs of Merganser Ducks gliding together, otters bobbing among the current, a beaver carcass ravaged by raptors. The sound the river makes when a fish rises and everyone’s breath leaves them, the force of the current reverberating through my oars and into my bones. The speed of the rapids, the soft edges of the eddy, the deep emerald water of spring time, the infrequent but glorious wild trout.
I need to fish. I need to pick apart riffle and run, to feel bend and head shake. I need my patience and skill tested to frustration, only to be rewarded with wild and awesome trout. I yearn for that connection, to feel the power of my quarry against my arm, to feel the trout calm before the release, the cold water…shocking to me, but embracing to the trout…that touch of wild, that disconnect from the human and that plug in to the primordial. Where the sounds and worries of the life off river are paused for a moment and all that envelops my world is the one I am standing in…the river and the place of wild animals lurking in the depths.
My job is to introduce people to this world, or to reconnect them. But connection through association is not the same and watching is not the same as doing. Trout…and I…need time to ourselves. I hope to see you out there…I’ll be lost in that world tomorrow.