July 5th, 2004

James the 'Younger'
By James Castwell

I have determined that I am growing younger. Got it all figured out. You see, there are two ways to look at things, most things anyway, and I have made a choice. Actually I made the choice many years ago. However I am not sure if it was a conscious one or, like many things I do, an unconscious one. But no matter, the choice was made and it was to grow younger, not, of all things, older.

Here is how I see it, life that is, and how one chooses to live it. Yesterday I was younger than I am today. Today I am younger than I will be tomorrow. And we all know "tomorrow never comes." Now, if it does come, I will be younger tomorrow than the day after. Right? Sure I am right. There seems only one day when I will be old; the day when I am no longer younger than the next day which will not dawn for me. So, all in all, not too bad; one day old and all the rest younger. Works for me.

I have not retired yet, I am one of the lucky ones, I don't have to retire. With a job like this who would want to? Oh sure, many go fishing a lot more than I do, but I get to live the fly-fishing world every day. That I have an obligation to do so does not count. The point is I do it every day, and I like it. I eat, sleep and live it. Every day I am in communication with all sorts of those in our sport. The big, the little and all in between. Wonderful folks all. So each day I look forward, ever onward, full steam ahead.

Sometimes events will jog memories, sometimes useful memories, sometimes I write about them. Like the guys on the bulletin board lately about C & R. And C & K (keep). And should a trout be killed because it took a dry fly and therefore will not take a dry again. Therefore it will only eat below the surface and that is considered boorish. Reminded me of a time when I was younger.

There was a stretch of the main stream of the blue-ribbon Au Sable river in Michigan that we knew by heart. I mean we had figured out what all the bugs were, where the trout were and how to present each to each. As is often the case, I tend to remember times when I did not catch any fish over some where I did. This was one of the former. We did not catch a fish. But, then again, we did not cast to any.

It was late in the season, spawning time for the brookies. There is no more brightly adorned trout than the brookie when he is on his way to the party, and in the fall these little char dress for the event. The water was low and running slow. Clear as ever and the light was the gentle yellow-green just before evening. The LF and I had geared up, waders, cane rods, the right fly. As we watched from the path along the river we could see many fish dimpling the surface snatching some little dries. Some were bulging on the nymphs making their way to the top. Others were taking the emergers and some the emerged duns.

We started to wonder why we were there at all. The insects were doing their own thing. The fish were having dinner. Was it right that we should walk into the scene and screw it up? Jerk some poor fish out of his element and spoil his evening, just so we could count him in some sort of way? Would any of this bring us pleasure? How many would we injure or even kill? How would our presence improve anything?

I can see the point if we were fishing for food. Catch and Kill makes sense to me. Mans dominion over nature, our birthright etc. We are the top of the food chain and you better believe it bub, kind of stuff. But to interfere with a situation that was in sync, one that was functioning as a complete circle, would this be a correct thing for us to do. I don't know and we didn't know then either. But we did just sit there and watch the whole show from act one to the end.

If we hadn't known exactly what fly to use, exactly where each fish was and it's size. If we hadn't figured all this out over the many days and seasons would it have been alright? Perhaps. But not when there was no challenge left. Nothing to be learned and therefore nothing to be gained. There was no pay-off. No reward. Only guilt.

Would some have considered us absolutely nuts? Probably. What had we gone there for? Enjoyment? A lovely evening? Satisfaction? Contentment? A chance and a time to share with our partner? Do we both still remember that time when we didn't catch a darn thing? Did we accomplish what we were after? Absolutely. ~ James Castwell

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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