Jul 25, 2014


Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh. W. H. Auden 

The original intent of this piece was to regale everyone with the follow up to my insistence on practicing your cast especially before a distant trip to salt water. My plan was to recant Heminway-esque tales of fishing for tarpon accompanied by the requisite fish porn, But alas, sometimes the fishing gods rear up and hit you with the butt end of a 12 weight with moody fish that are few and far between. During this recent humiliation in the Keys, the time on the water gave me time to pause and savor each moment while being poled around into a head wind.

The time directed my thoughts to my great friend, Jeff. We've had a friendship that has a grown over the past 35 years, and I've been blessed to share a number of adventures and engaging conversations with Jeff. My dream is to one day "grow up" to be Jeff. He's had a number of bad breaks that would certainly crush a lesser man's spirit, but he always remains smiling despite his fortunes. He reminds me of Lieutenant Dan from "Forrest Gump" who defies the furies despite being tossed about during an epic storm. Jeff grins from ear to ear while echoing a throaty laugh despite all hell breaking loose around him. I've laid witness to his Cheshire Cat grin while he's been caught reeling in the wrong direction, grabbing the fly line during a steelhead run, riding a motorcycle over a mountain pass with snowflakes on the ground. Carpe' diem is an overused catchphrase with a wonderful sentiment. Jeff lives the sentiment on a nano level trying to savor each sweep of the second hand.

Instead of wallowing in self pity regarding the anorexic tarpon, and the leader that broke with little pressure, I decided to put my best "Jeff" on, and embrace my blessings. I thought about how fortunate I am to be fishing for sport not for sustenance. And not having to provide for my family with my fishing prowess was such a luxury. My family would starve and I'd have to resort to agriculture. I enjoyed the warm breeze against my face that was so much more nourishing than the AC duct in my office. I marveled at my boat mates casts that would lay out in a more perfect geometry than fussing about the placement of my icons on my computer desktop. I witnessed the skill of our guides who could keep us positioned so well in a boat effortlessly and quietly despite our large frames and steady head wind. And how the heck do they speak so calmly with fish approaching the boat and getting to witness another poorly executed cast from me? Some miracles have to be appreciated and not understood. The final blessing of each day was to sit around a table peeling shrimp, sharing a cold one and laughing the night away with great friends.

This steelhead season, I'm planning to keep the same mental attitude though I'm sure at times I'll regress. And despite how the fishery treats me, I'm always going to have a a great trip. Though moments can be fleeting, they resonate for years without any embellishment. Best to treat them well.

Gorge Fly Shop Contributor
Charlie Chambers

"Fly Fish the World with Us"

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