It's winter in South Dakota. I'm not getting out to fish,
the remodeling job in my basement has locked me away from
my fly tying vise for more than a month and I'm generally
crabby. My wife says I'm a GOOP (grouchy, ornery old poop).
Lately I represent that label very much.
I didn't get to fish a lot this year. Sadly, I can count
the times easily, and they don't add up to nearly the number
of days I usually spend on the stream. I can't say the year
has been a loss though. I didn't get to fish as often as
I would have liked to, but I did get to fish some, and
that time was quality time.
Looking back over the year, I fished a few evenings in the
spring, clobbered the bass and bluegills on Memorial day
weekend while the wife was out of town, then fished the
Bighorn river for four days in June. My July was spent
preparing for, enjoying and writing about the fishing
opportunities in Belize. I only got out a few times
after that. I could be disappointed, but I'm not sure
it would be justified.
Those afternoon trips in the spring were spent on one of
the finest blue ribbon trout streams anywhere; Rapid Creek
runs right through the town of Rapid City, and the fishing
here in town is better than most places. Some folks spend
thousands of dollars to travel to distant places to catch
fewer and smaller fish than I can catch on any afternoon
just a few miles from my home. I can't complain about that.
I had two full days to fish on Memorial Day weekend.
During that time, I caught over 40 nice bass, over a
hundred nice bluegills, several small northern pike
and a few other less desirable fish. I also had the
opportunity to photograph caddisflies in their natural
surroundings. I used the fishing to hone my skills
casting a long line and practiced the double haul in
preparation for a trip to saltwater. I won't complain
about the time spent or the results.
I only live 300 miles from the Bighorn River. People
travel thousands of miles to fish the stretch of water
I fish every June on the big river. I can pack the car
in the morning and be wetting my line in fabled Bighorn
water by early afternoon. A bonus is the beautiful
scenery I travel past on my way to the river. I guess
I can't complain about that.
Getting an opportunity to travel to a place like Belize
and fish for bonefish and other hard fighting fish is a
dream most people pay a lot of money to enjoy. Some
people are never fortunate enough to enjoy a trip like
that. Being invited to enjoy that trip as an outdoor
writer, at someone else's expense; is a writer's dream
and a great honor few are able to enjoy. I made that
trip in July, the Belize Tourism Board paid the way,
and all I had to do is write about it. As a bonus,
I get to keep the memories and pictures. How could
I ever complain about that?
Summer projects and other duties kept me pinned to the
home front most of the remainder of the summer. I did
get out a couple of times, mostly here in town, but no
all-day adventures were in the plan. I might resent
the idea of being stuck so close to home if it weren't
for the fact that I still caught dozens of fish on
those few outings. My 45-minute Labor Day jaunt to
Canyon Lake on the west side of Rapid City produced
a 24 inch rainbow and several others in the 18 plus
inch category. It would be silly to complain about
So, here I am, being a GOOP over what? I enjoyed
fishing this summer in places many people only dream
about. I live in a place that has fishing fine enough
to draw people from all over the world. So, what am
I complaining about? I guess this happens to me every
year when I realize that summer is over and I didn't
do all the things I planned to do. Call it practicing
the art of cabin fever.
I also get this way when the work schedule gets hectic
and the honey-do list is full of things I don't enjoy.
Working in a retail store and listening to all the
grouchy people complain about prices and the lack
of availability of products no one even makes, sort
of takes the thrill out of the season. The commercial
aspects of this season aren't very pretty when viewed
from the salesman's side of the counter, even if this
is the time of year when I make the most money. Like
I tell my boss on occasion, "my God isn't green and
doesn't have pictures of past presidents printed on it."
My "bottom line" isn't fully in line with a retailer's
point of view.
I think I'll try singing to cheer me up. Maybe I'll
put on a Christmas CD and sing along while I pound
nails into the wife's latest 'honey-do' project. If
I turn the music up it might muffle my comments the
next time I hit my finger with a hammer. The grandkids
remind me that I'm not supposed to use that kind of
language, and I might get my mouth washed out with
soap if I do it again.
The Christmas spirit will eventually hit me. By the
time I sit in the big chair and read to my grandchildren
about wise men, shepherds, angels and a Child in a manger,
I'll have a totally new attitude. 'Tis the season
to "get over it." I'll work on it. I hope you do
the same. ~ AC