Last Cast – 2014

by | Dec 31, 2014 | 4 comments

I had a couple hours of daylight left and I just couldn’t stand it anymore.

The pothole where I’ve found some of my biggest fish on the river was only a couple hundred yards away from the couch I was sitting on, so I layered up and rigged up; then I headed for the water.

Most things in fishing just don’t work out the way you had them planned, but I guess this short trip got pretty close.

Nothing would move to streamers, and the water was cold and getting colder, so after about a half hour of casting upstream to the left bank and then another fifteen minutes of throwing downstream at the right bank, I switched to nymphs and walked down to the pothole I’d been dreaming of.

It didn’t take long, and I was surprised by a twelve inch brown.  Fair enough.  We mostly don’t consider this river to be all that productive in the winter, so any tug on the end of the line here is a welcome feeling. Just a few minutes after the release, I was into a good high-teens fish that put a nice bend in the rod.  Awesome.

The light of the last day in 2014 began to fade and I reminisced a bit.  It’s been an incredible year for me,  full of life lessons that I probably needed to work on for some time now.

Last April, two herniated disks in my back started pinching a nerve that travels down my left arm.  After nearly a month of each day being worse than the previous one, and appointments with multiple doctors, the pain was nearly unbearable.  I couldn’t work, fish,  sleep or even enjoy time with my family.  I was at an absolute low point and I guess I needed to be that far down in order to clearly see what is actually important in this life.

An MRI showed the doctors that surgery was my only real option, and after the initial fear,  I found myself relieved to be headed toward a solution.

The whole experience was really a defining moment in my life as the reality of my human vulnerability revealed a depth in the world that I had never seen. It was like over-saturating a photo, and each moment — each emotion — became more vivid. It opened my heart more to the love of my family and friends, and I want to hold on to that feeling. In the spirit of the season, I’d say that trying to see the world as I did right after surgery is my New Year’s resolution.

I moved back upstream into a position just above where I’d hooked the last fish. The pothole is about four feet wide and twice as long, and I’d saved the top part for the last few casts since there’s a very good chance of hanging up in the overhanging limbs.  It’s a tough spot …..

….. It was a good cast. Just enough slack to allow the nymph to sink before the drift … drift … drift. Watch the line. Visualize the nymph on the bottom.  Watch the line …..hesitation ….. tick ….. tick ….. and I set the hook.

Probably my best fish since summer.  Whiskey Drinker, and the last cast of 2014.

Here’s to living the next year vividly.

Goodnight 2014.

 

Enjoy the day, friends.

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Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

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4 Comments

  1. I just saw this. I had c4-6 fused in my neck November of 2014. It was due to severe arthritis that was threatening to permanently damaging my spine and disabling me. Super nervy, pun intended.

    It really puts things in perspective. I lost some balance, found your post looking at your piece on wading staves, and some musculature. But that and a little numbness beats the heck out of living in a wheelchair!

    Moving my interest from more adrenaline sports to fishing was also part of my recovery. I spent a lot of time learning modern techniques and your site was a big part of that. Serendipitous considering you were going through the same thing while you wrote it!

    We can still be ourselves, albeit wiser versions that have looked over the edge.

    Thanks for your work

    Reply
    • Truth. The only thing I don’t like is how much more cautious we all tend to get with age. I can’t seem to help it.

      Reply
      • Yep, hard to act with reckless abandon when you have seen where a wreck can land you!

        Reply

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