It's been a fine summer of heat and throwing hopper
imitations to grassy banks while cooling my legs in
rushing water. It even stayed hot a couple weeks past
my Daughter going back to school, but the mornings
starting getting that edge of cold signaling a change
in the season.
Then during a Sunday afternoon of yard work I get a phone
call from my brother in law on his cell phone; "it's on,"
he says with audible confidence. "You said to call you
when it turned on and it definitely has."
I ask even though I can tell the answer, "you calling from
"You bet, we hit it earlier today and it was my best day ever,
we each landed about 25 and I got one 28 incher. You gotta
go," he says.
"I know" I reply, "when it turns on you have to make time
for it," even as my mind shuffles through all the logistics
of the week ahead which stand in stark contrast to the
easily spoken ultimatum; "I know."
The weather remains bright and crisp and I begin to notice
more leaves turning and the need for a fleece vest at the
jobsite. There is a power in the light breeze out of the
north, a numinous tone that amplifies the whispers of the
previous week. Now I can hear it clearly; it is on, it is
on. The cedar I am working with seems to pick up the
vibration and smells sweeter than usual. As I glide my
hand down the freshly sanded boards feeling for spurs
the vibration moves into my bones; it is on.
Driving over the bridge into the city I look to the mountains
dark and still mostly green but in just a moment they will
be blanketed in white and become an obstacle between the
river and me. Traffic is a snarl as usual and people insult
each other in an attempt to cut a few seconds off their
drive, I look at them and wonder; do they know it is on?
Dropping my daughter at school I linger with the children
yearning for the energy of their youth. The grounds are
electric with children excited at the promise of a new
season of learning and knowledge. The chill in the air
attacks my aging body and I chuckle at the contradictions
of life and nature. Their energy and innocence juxtaposed
with the frayed edges of my worn body and the wisdom of
years of choices they have yet to face. They all know
the secret; they just don't realize the truth. It is on.
The week moves on yet the weather holds firm, high pressure
holds off the moisture but the cool dry air still creeps
in from the North. The sun is bright but stays so very
low on the horizon, blocked by the towers of downtown it
searches for streets it can get a clean shot down;
bouncing along the glass walls, intermittent avenues
of brilliance. Warmed by the city's lights my wife and
I make our way to a mid-week play. The hustle of a city,
the fluttering of dresses, anticipation of Art; it is on.
The play is well done and the evening reminds me of the
good things about living in a large city. It revolves
around the theme of what we will sacrifice in a life
of chaos to experience a state of grace, if even just
for a few moments. Obsession and art form, ignoring
all else just for a fleeting moment of clarity; I too
possess this weakness, trimming the edges of my
responsibilities to make room for time on the water.
I can't help it for I am convinced it makes me whole.
It is on.
The lake is famous in these parts for its "ya should
have been here yesterday" personality. It fishes
pretty typically year round with Chironomids and
slow retrieves, but years ago we discovered that
it lights up for a couple weeks at this time of
year. The big boys come up from the depths and
forage on minnows and such in the shallows and
under overhanging and downed brush. At first we
thought it was a spawning instinct but the rainbows
show up too, so we settled on the theory that they
are just fattening up for the winter. At this time
they are packed along the bank and will charge streamers
stripped through the branches and rocks. Streaking wakes
behind your fly and violent slashing strikes; Pike come
to mind. Once hooked up you have to kick the boat
backwards with all your might, battling to pull them
out of the cover, which they know is their best chance
for protection. Then comes one of my favorite moments
of chaos; they are too damn big to fit in my net. It
Friday finds me scooting though morning traffic heading
to the lake; it's an easy drive because sunny Fridays
always seem to diminish the need for work in the Northwest.
My brother in law is already fishing when I get there so
I row out to see how it's going. Slower than the week
before but still action packed is the report I get.
Five minutes of casting at the bushes and then the
water explodes under my un-weighted streamer. The Ross
G is loud but my whoops, hollers and laughter drown it
out and a fat 18" brown is folded into my net. Big teeth
and red spots; it is on!
I pull in enough 18 - 20 inch browns and rainbows to make
it a very memorable day but by mid afternoon it becomes
quite tough to find a fish willing to chase and inhale a
fly. Other people begin to show up and fish the ledges of
the lake with no success, and no doubt question our sanity
for pounding the shore. The float tuber who asks me how
we've done doesn't seem to believe me when I tell him we
caught plenty within a few feet of the bank striping
streamers. Like most of us in our everyday lives he
can sense in the air that something is happening but
can't quite grasp it in entirety. Without some outside
force snapping us into attention we fall into man made
rhythms and forget the simple truth that anywhere, any
time, it is on. ~ Paul Dieter (pdieter)