The river doesn’t owe you anything.
It’s been here for millennia. It has bent and grown, widened and shaped the surrounding mountains and carved the bedrock beneath. It will outlast you and everyone who carries your name hereafter. The river is a rolling time machine, carrying a history of the earth, the evolution of life, and yes, even the stories of fishermen.
The river will swell to full capacity. It will flood and wash away island braids that have stood since your grandfather first waded across the current to hunt whitetail on the other side. It will delay the hatches of mayflies and midges. It will run low for two years straight and then blow out during the Green Drake hatch. It doesn’t care about you.
It doesn’t care about your five-hundred dollar waders or your thousand dollar fly rod. It doesn’t care that you spent a full paycheck in travel expenses to get here. The river follows no hatch chart, no timetable of expectations, nor any hopes and musings of a fisherman. The river doesn’t care about your plans.
A lifetime of casts to the water are but a half-frame of time in the eons of life flowing with a river. And yet, here you are — part of it all.
This is the majesty of fishing a river: to be among something so grand, so full of life and death — future turned to history — to walk upstream through a perpetual flow, to be immersed in a forever cycle as water passes through, knowing that someday, somehow, those wet molecules will return to this very place to flow again. And all of it, every piece of it, every moment, is here for you and your children, as it was for your father and his father before him.
The river doesn’t owe you anything. And yet, if you are humble, if you care for the river and protect it, if you are thankful for the experience, careful enough to learn its nuances, appreciative of the peace and the challenge it provides, the river will be kind in return.
The river gives you what you need. The river gives you what you earn.
Full of wild and wonderful trout, this river is not easy. But it educates. It teaches and nurtures and offers endless opportunity.
The river doesn’t owe you anything. But it is yours, if only for a short while.
Fish hard, friends.
Enjoy the day.
T R O U T B I T T E N