Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Adverse 2, continue
I stumbled eagerly over the slick bowling ball sized boulders to where Jack had been standing.
"Cast straight out to that bush and let your fly swing into the deeper water" he called out over the sound of the river.
"Right, OK. " I yelled back, then looked at the opposite. bank - It was full of bushes.
"The green one ", Jack clarified.
The green one ? Big help. They're all green. I kept casting then moved closer to where I had seen Jack standing. Casting to some slack water on the far side I could see a teeny splash where my fly landed in the smooth water. Immediately, I mended the line, moments later the faster water of the riffle pulled my line even with my fly and the whole rig drifted in a straight line into the head of the pool. The fly was, maybe, six inches below the surface when suddenly it went taunt. I pulled up, it stayed fixed and my rod double over then jerked over further. Fish on! Wow.
" You got 'em! ", Jack called. I moved downstream to land my fish in the calmer water of the pool. As Bill moved into place and began casting, I saw the bush on the bank and sure enough, it was GREEN!
Within a few casts Bill had a fish on. Success. Instantly all was forgiven; hard was easy, black was white. What followed was somewhat unique in fishing practices. The three of us shared the "Spot" in a kind of cooperative dance. We took turns wading in, casting out ten or twenty times, maybe catching a fish and then moving off. In between turns we would exchange stories at the bench. At this time, it became evident that Jack was here on his own and that he had hiked in. Not wanting to repeat the gruesome journey we had made on our way in; I asked him how he had gotten here. In answer he pointed to another bush and said,
"There's a trail that goes straight up to the road".
I went to look. Near where we had crawled in, was a small cave-like opening and a well worn trail led up the bank. Satisfied we had a graceful exit, I returned to the bench where Jack was explaining to Bill the dynamics of this particular fishing hole. He was telling Bill why he had faith in this spot like no other. His message was paradoxical and compelling.
"You see", he said, drawing a broad arc with his hand as he pointed to the sky down river, "By noon the sun has cleared those trees and all the fish that are moving up shelter in the pool. Then, by one o'clock, there's a good bunch of 'em in there, and, with the sun on their backs, they've got nothing to do but bite."
Now, the sun had dipped below the trees on the far side of the bank, their shadows were stretching across the pool. As if to add weight to his theory, Jack was packing to leave.
After all we had been through, we weren't about to quit. We watched as Jack ambled across the gravel bar and disappear into brush. He had given us the keys and left. Ash darkened sky quickly made afternoon evening. The smoke filled atmosphere was tense. We alternately fished and watched as the proximity of the fire made the animals of the forest act unusually bold. Despite what Jack had said there were still plenty of fish to be caught. Again, standing in contrast to our environment, we recreated playfully while all creation was ablaze. A deer bounded into the river and swam across just above us. Later, a bear slid down the bank and waded clumsily in water on the far side. Then,a snake curled black and white, black and white amongst the grey stones of the beach. There it was; Apocalypse Now, End of Days. Tall trees stood bravely and creatures were set in motion by an impending inferno. With the disaster of the great Biscuit Fire so close at hand, the whole scene was made, at once, magic and real by the sense of fragility and doom.