July 3rd, 2006

This Is All There Is
By James Castwell

Someday, probably way in the future you will look back on this summer with fond memories of times spent on the stream or lake. This is it. Like Peggy Lee sang, "Is this all there is?" And you know the answer. This is all there is. All that you an I make of it. Of each weekend, each trip, each day, each cast and each rise. Each bend of the stream, every log and seam and ripple and overhanging bush and every time you lay down a perfect cast and have the fish refuse the drift. This is where your memories are made, where peace of mind for your future is born. Where someday, contentment gets it's start, to warm you on a chilly day in time yet to come.

These times and events can be building blocks for your next quest. Tools of your trade to be not only used, but honed and shaped for even better results. Tricks and titbits of lore to be savored and shared at campfires and perhaps at footstools of the future. These are your past. Make the most of them. Build a solid future.

'Once upon a time' in the east, for that is where a lot of this fly-fishing business really was born in this country, travel was invented. Well, Dearborn really, but old Henry Ford liked to go camping out east, and not alone either. He wanted his buddies to go with him. One made tires, Firestone was his name. His other pal was an inventor, T. Edison, Tommy they called him. A fourth member often made it a quartet, a President of the United States, W.G. Harding. Quite a bunch to find at a camping site I would imagine. In fact it almost happened that way once.

Here is a picture of Edison, Ford and Firestone.

The touring car they went camping with got stuck in a road in Virginia. Firestone, Harding, Ford and Edison were stuck, so they sent their chauffeur hiking up the road to find help. Doesn't everyone have one? He returned with a farmer driving a model T. With that help of the car they got back on the road instead of in the road and resumed the camping trip. The farmer didn't believe them and was convinced they were all lying. Oh yes, another was on the trip too, a guy named Luther Burbank. He had an interest in trees. So, it was folks like these that started it all. Started the demise of our recreation. And that is why there is not much left. Transportation. Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Below the boys are on a camping trip with a few pals.

Transportation did what it always does, move things along. It did just that. It moved people to the outdoors. It brought and still brings people from all walks of life to the lakes and streams and beaches and woods and mountains and prairies and to just outside our backyards. Vince Marinaro writes about fishing 'cheek to jowl' and that was fifty years ago. The percentages of warm bodies per cubic foot of water has forever changed. No more are the days of moving on to another stream or lake because there is already someone fishing there. It used to be like that, back in the 'good old days.' Remember too that the state did not plant like they do now either. But, then again, the AuSable in Michigan did have Grayling, at Grayling.

And so as time marches on and all those other guys with it, places start to fill up. Or at least they get crowded. Now, today, we need to remember out 'stream ethics.' Hey, they have been doing that in the UK for quite a while. Like casting only upstream and just to a 'rising fish'. Those are not ethics; they are laws. Just started out as ethics I guess. To save and extend a dwindling and faltering fishery. But we don't have to do those things yet here do we.

Naw, we have plenty of fish. If not, F&G will make sure we do by dumping in a whole truck full of little cookie-cutter rubber fishies. Oops, my bias is showing again. Sorry about that. Anyway, these are your days. Your last chance to make a good set of memories for the fireside chats, whether around a real fire, a website chat room, a bunch of the good old boys or a grandchild on your knee. Every time you go out, make it a good venture. Pay attention to details. Live life, don't just watch it go by. For Gods sake, don't end up just resting on a park bench, looking at your shoes.

From here on out you will not see as many on the stream and lake as you did yesterday; you will see more. It's the changing face of recreation in the United States. It is camping 21st century style. Fly fishing 2006 and then some. You can walk a bit farther up stream, but tomorrow you may find someone else who has just walked a bit farther downstream. And so there you stand. It is how things are and will be.

Oh yes, we can bemoan our fate and how we should have been born sooner and all that. But, we weren't, we are here and we're here now and this is how it is. Give it ten or twenty or thirty or forty years and you'll be able to look back at these days and remember how things are now. What will it be like, looking back on today's times. How will it feel?

Do you dare to make a guess, a comparison? Will there still be any of your favorite places left? How will the rivers and lakes change. Will nature and man team up to make a mess of your playground? Lakes dry up. Rivers change beds. Streams go underground. Fish gone. Seasons closed. Protected specie.

One thing is for certain. Nothing will remain the same as it is today. That I can guarantee you the lake you get to know will constantly change. Not as much as moving water, streams and rivers, but everything changes. You recreate, you remember and may take a few pictures and dream over the off season of how everything will be when once again you get can get back at it. And then you find it's not exactly as you remembered it.

I feel sorrow and lose when, on any 'opening day,' I find a long trusted log or overhanging bush has succumbed to the ravages of winter and is now residing somewhere downstream. With it go my remembrances of times gone past, my little mind-pictures and all that goes with them. It is maybe better not to have known that it is now gone? To leave things alone and not go back in fear of destroying the past? Is it safe to peek with a wistful eye on such a morning and see if your world is still there? To delicately poke at things that could alter forever cherished memories? If the bush or log are gone? Can you handle it? Is it a bad thing?

Or does each new dawning of each new day bring with it possibilities and opportunities and make room in our minds for the new and fresh and exciting, and welcome the new wonderful bush and log? Yes. Yes, I think it does, and I hope I never think otherwise. ~ JC

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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