Monday, September 28, 2009

Home Waters

There will be days when the fishing is better than one's most optimistic forecast, others when it is far worse. Either is a gain over just staying home. - Roderick Haig-Brown

As another glorious fishing season (and summer!) abruptly comes to a close, I find myself dreaming of Home Waters and what these words really mean. To the average fly angler, it's the lake, ocean, pond, creek, river, or stream closest to where you live. Others say it's the spot you fish the most or simply love the best. For me, it's something completely different.

You see, my goal of owning riverfront property is on the back burner, again, and there's really no place nearby that I fish. Besides I seem to frequent all my favorite holes equally, so where would this leave me? And then there's the old adage - Match the Hatch - but in order to do that, you have to catch it first so that's why you'll find me on specific waters at specific times. This season my odyssey began in late May on the Deschutes River at Warm Springs, Oregon.

Just like clockwork every Memorial Day the Deschutes warms to 52 degrees and suddenly the magic happens! The river explodes with life, featuring the annual appearance of the giant Salmonfly, and for the next few weeks, up until Father's Day, the wary redside rainbow trout let their guard down to gorge on these tasty insects. Unfortunately we had a cold, wet late spring this year killing the hatch early, leaving me to wonder what might have been as I stared at the lonely canyon through my rain-covered windshield.

Once the summer finally arrived, it was time for my vacation and the journey back to my birthplace of Wisconsin to toss glittery girdle bugs from a belly boat at the bucket-mouth bass that dwell in the warm water environs, like Golden Lake, that abound there. For a couple of weeks this kind of fishing was fine, but soon I longed for the Pacific Northwest and the tug of a true trout at the end of my line.

It's July and the soft warm breeze and the break of sunshine in the white puffy clouds above my campsite remind me of only one thing:

now's the time to be lost in the lily pads, casting long, sleek bright blue dry flies at the leaping, land-locked Atlantic Salmon of Hosmer Lake near Bend, Oregon.

With the snow-capped mountains as a backdrop and the abundance of damselfly adults fluttering around the channels, it's easy to lose track of time and become oblivious to the

not so obvious creatures you're sharing all this natural wonder and spectacular angling with.

When the dandelions fade to seed and the days slowly begin to shorten, August turns to September and . . .

summer's last hurrah and hatch peaks on the Donner und Blitzen River near Frenchglen, Oregon. No, it's not the bountiful dragonfly but the elusive grasshopper - the bug signaling the onset of autumn - that takes centerstage here right now.

This year, the river level was low and the fishing poor, but even after hiking ten miles through the narrow and winding canyon, I can honestly say I'm richer for the experience. So I hope you understand now that regardless of the proximity, loyality, or frequency a certain fishing hole might offer, this is how I define Home Waters: it's any place where your mind is free to wander and you can't imagine your life without . . . just like home.

Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.
- Henry David Thoreau
(Photo Note: I strive to shoot a picture story of every fishing trip I take so that at the end of the season I'll have a photo essay or layout chronicling the entire year. The 2009 season offered fewer angling opportunities than most, (I worked a lot of overtime this summer!), but regardless of that, these images represent part of that yearly essay. Picture stories, essays, and layouts will be discussed more in detail here at a later date.)