Sunup to sundown.
There’s nothing as simple and yet so full of variation as a full day on the water. The diversity of situations challenges the will of a fisherman: Exhaustion from the forces of water — its speed, its numbing cold, the pressure of its depth. Weariness from the weather — the endless wind, the heavy rain, and the consuming heat of the sun. We soak in all the stages and moments that one single day brings, and we are alive through each one.
Everything changes in a full day. Fish pass through windows of activity. The light shifts from blue morning into crisp, midday hues and finally passes into the soft orange-black shadows of evening. The wind, the weather, the temperature — our energy level, the strength in tired legs and the mental ability to focus — it all changes in one long day.
In springtime, these days grow longer. The land is greener; the sun climbs higher and provides more chances to master the elements and to find fish in parts of the river that have lain dormant since the winter solstice. The hatches are coming: mayflies, caddisflies, stoneflies, midges. All sense the light and the temperature shift. The longer daylight activates the food chain, and we will follow.
We carry no timepiece. We care not the specific hour, because it’s an unnecessary bother. We pull on waders in the predawn half-light, warming gloved hands with puffs of heated breath dancing in the air. There’s nothing but the river and the fish, no other care or concern until the evening darkness asks us to surrender, upon which hour we’ll find the dim path back to where we started, back into the modern life and into a world that so many souls mistakenly consider the real one.
Full days allow time for reflection, for a good bank-sit, time for getting to know our own thoughts or the thoughts of a friend who shares the same madness — time enough for a streamside fire.
We prepare, we plot. We replace miniature soldiers for the dismantled platoons inside fly boxes. We perpetually patch waders because we know there’s a price for inattention, for laziness, for being unprepared miles from the access point. We walk, bringing heavy packs stuffed with essentials, expecting and meeting the forceful shifts of time — one into another.
We fish the full days. Dawn to dark. Not almost dawn — real dawn. Not almost dark — real dark. Dogmatic and persistent. The first ones here and the last ones to leave — because there’s too much to miss otherwise.
Because every abiding memory starts here.
Enjoy the day.
T R O U T B I T T E N