Fishing creeks lately has gotten me reminiscing about the good old days when I first began fly fishing. I would spend hours exploring tiny little watersheds near my grandparents’ summer cabin near Lake Tahoe, CA. It didn’t matter whether the fish were four inches or four pounds. I thoroughly enjoyed watching each and every one rise to my skated elk hair caddis. The only difference is that now I release all of my fish, while back then I can’t deny that a few ended up on the frying pan 😉
I wrote this poem a few years ago while waiting for summer days like the ones we have been experiencing here in Washington lately. One of my favorite things about fly fishing is that it allows me an excuse to slow down, enjoy the little things that we so often pass by and really feel alive.
The Ten Thousand Sounds of the River
The ten thousand little sounds of the river
dance fluidly through the stillness
I dance along with them,
wading in the mist beneath sleepy mountains.
The sun yawns and stretches
his arms open wide
and twinkling fingers cast a waking spell
over the drowsy valley.
Several hungry rainbows have gathered
in a pool to feed on mayflies.
In the dance I am invisible,
as minute as a tiny baetis nymph,
as sinuous as the playful water.
The trout sip their meals
finning lazily beneath the surface .
With a slight wave of my fly rod
I shoot a serpentine loop out over the water.
The line unfurls, whispering to the river
and settles the fly on the surface film.
I count my heartbeats:
One hundred and eleven…
My world is a bubble under an endless sky
with an infinitesimal dry fly at the center.
The ten thousand sounds envelop me
and my heart palpitates softly with the rhythm.
A swirling shadow rises beneath the fly
breaking the playful cadence.
With elegant swiftness I strike.
The rod arcs sharply
finding a life of its own.
The surprised trout streaks for deep sanctuary.
Line flies off my reel.
My bubble shatters,
pierced by the triumphant sound
of a stripping drag.
I hold on
palming the spool
Gaining first inch by inch,
then feet and yards.
The trout explodes to the surface
cartwheeling into the air.
A circus acrobat
dressed in sparkling jewels.
The trout makes another hard run
stretching me to my utter limits.
Tired and reluctant she submits,
drifting in to land delicately
in my waiting net.
I remove the hook with care
and hold her up in the light.
she is a treasure surviving the vigor of time
her colors reflect the joy of the sun
and the sadness of the moon.
All the hues that fill the day
shine from her vibrant skin
resonating inside me
with life, love and health.
Gently I send her back to her home
and watch a sacred gem swim away free.
I breathe deeply and let out a long sigh.
My heart beats softly once again
and the ten thousand sounds of the river
rise up from the valley
vibrating in the sierra sun.