Just when it seems hard work and maximum effort yields nothing but strain, nature gives back to reassure a wary outdoorsman to try again.
That was certainly the case for me during a recent fishing outing. My birthday came and went in a flash, as they always do the older one gets. I did manage to talk the family into an early morning allowance of time. I utilized my minutes to try a trout stream I had accidentally discovered.
I love exploring, and the miles of “untamed” stream shore was extremely alluring. Being new, I was armed with everything I thought would possibly catch me a trout. With a spinning rod in one hand and fly rod case across my back, I felt like the fishing equivalent of Rambo.
Sorry traditionalists, but I had two small spinners and a box worms in hand. I was determined to catch.
Again, this was an adventure. The stream was small . . . very small, causing doubt in the mind of learning fisherman. Could there really be trout in these waters? The outing was much like a hunt, requiring a stealthy stalk over bluffs and around every bend.
With a small meandering stream comes towering trees with numerous overhanging branches, again causing doubt and difficulty. To get to the first hole, the thickest of thickets was in my way. I struggled to get myself and my gear through. After measured success, I peered over the bluff to see the most beautiful swirling pool where the water slowed just enough to create a pocket . . . a pocket I thought was perfect for a hiding brookie.
Unfortunately, over the bluff was a menacing branch, one that would prove fatal to my day. I thought I could sneak a snaking cast just underneath and land my spinner on the upstream side of the pool. It would be perfect.
Even more unfortunately, my self-proclaimed superior hand-eye coordination failed me. My cast snaked right into the dead branch and wrapped repeatedly. To make matters worse, my attempt to recover my spinner caused the line to break. My spinner tumbled into the pool where I had intended it in the first place.
My water search proved useless, and I sighed as I realized I had only one spinner left and my box of worms fell out of my pocket and was forever lost in the thicket of hell.
Throughout my three mile walk, the stream took command of me. I cannot tell you how many times I hung up on branches. I slipped on rocks. I fell to my knees in the water, and managed to keep my camera from swimming with the fishes. The stream was taking me to the test. No trout were had.
I think the stream also sent me a direct message. “Get back on the lake where you belong,” the stream said as I reeled in my only fish of the day . . . a mini-pike . . . heavy on the “mini.”
As my casting improved, I salvaged my last spinner for the majority of the trip. That is . . . until one last branch caught my cast. With my last lure up 20 feet, I decided it was not the day to climb trees.
Although a few more trout-hiding holes existed between me and the truck, I decided to “hang it up” for the day. Instead of tangling my rods in the briars, I trudged along the shoreline for an easier route.
As I crossed the stream for the last time near where I began, I happened to look down as my foot slipped off the edge of a rock. Something flashed underwater and caught my eye. My first thought was a little brookie, but as I peered down, my initial spinner sat shining in the sun perfectly in the middle of the stream. How I had not seen it earlier, I will never know.
I bent down to pick it up, dipping my hand in the gin-clear flow. Like a defensive-end helps up the quarterback after a sack, the stream was politely inviting me back to go round two.
A short distance downstream, I turned back up the bluff and looked to my right. Not 20 feet from the trail, two eyes were peeking at me. A spotted fawn stood unalarmed as if to say, “hi.” Mom was nowhere to be found, and the fawn went about her business checking back with me after every step.
It was a very calming and surreal moment. Despite my physical fishing struggle, I think the fawn was signaling me to come back someday and visit again . . . next time when she was bigger.
That I will certainly do. I don’t mind a challenge. When you work hard in the outdoors, nature always has a way of giving back.
By Matt Soberg