If you have read my bio, you will have noticed that my other passion in life is fly-fishing. Occasionally I decide to combine the two and see what I come up with. The following is a short story I jotted down the other day. Kind of a rough draft of sorts. There is no hidden agenda, or deep meaning to search for. It is simply a story. I hope you enjoy reading it, as I enjoyed writing it.
The stranger glanced at me from under the brim of his brown, oil-skin hat and quietly said, “Don’t move.”
Unaware of who this man was, and why he was here, gave me pause. “Excuse me?” I questioned, “But who…”
“Shhh!” he responded cutting me off.
I tried again, “Sir, if you don’t mind, I…”
“Shhh!” was his response once again. “Just wait for it.” He said to me. Wait for what? I thought to myself. He glanced at me again just as I was about to protest. But the look in his eyes told me I should listen. Sensing my understanding, he nodded his head and turned his attention back to the water flowing around him. He was short and wore a stubby gray beard. He sported a healthy midsection that seemed to be pushing his rubber hip boots down his legs. It was then I heard a small splash. This river had been part of my family for generations, I knew it better than anyone, and I knew the sound of a feeding trout when I heard it. And that’s when it happened.
The stranger drew up a long fishing rod that I hadn’t noticed at first. With the tip of his rod now facing directly upstream he grabbed the bright green line, thicker than a normal fishing line. With his left hand, he began stripping line off the oversized real an arm length at a time, letting it pool around his legs. Then all at once he heaved the rod upward with a snap, pulling the line from the water to soar backwards above his head.
Then, just as quickly, he brought the rod forward creating a large, arcing, loop in the line as it turned on itself going the opposite direction. He repeated this action several times gradually releasing more and more line out with each flick of his wrist. Finally, when he sensed the moment was right, he stopped the rod tip about shoulder height and let the line float gently to the water’s surface, the small yellow fly barley causing a stir as it touched down thirty feet in front of him in the shade of an overhanging sage.
Then as quickly as he had let the line soar, he began to haul it back in, letting it once again loop around his legs. Then just as before, he started the whole process over again. Back and forth, back and forth, then release, and haul the line back. I had heard of fly-fishing, but had never bore it witness. As I watched him, I began to forget his intrusion into my world and allowed myself become an observer of his. What at first seemed to be a chaotic mess of rod, reel, line, and arms, had suddenly become something beautiful.
There was a rhythm to his cast. I felt myself unconsciously rocking back and forth, mimicking the silent cadence. The line coming off the water threw glittering mist into the air. The fluid motion of his cast was hypnotic as it hummed along with the hymns of nature.
A small splash brought me out of my haze, as the man lifted the rod tip abruptly. With a wide grin he worked the fish towards him, and into the small net attached to his waist. The fish netted, he made his way over to where I stood on the bank, watching as a child would after seeing their first magic show.
“Here, hold this will you?” I took a couple hurried steps and reached out quickly and took the rod from his outstretched hand. He dipped his hand into the net and lifted out a small trout. “She (for apparently she was a she) is beautiful isn’t she!” He said, holding her closer for my inspection. It was a statement rather than a question.
Her golden brown scales glowed in sun. She was dark across her dorsal, gradually growing lighter to her underbelly. I could see her mouth and gills working, opening and closing as she tried to draw breath. Just inside the corner of her jaw sat the tiny fly.
“She is indeed beautiful.” Was my response. Then I watched him with a practiced hand slip the fly from her mouth and gently placed her back into the water. He held her until the she suddenly darted off. He swished his hand through the cold water then brushed it up and down his shirt front before extending it to me. I reached out and took it. He smiled as we shook hands. He released my hand and pushed his hat back from his forehead and stared once more into the river as it flowed toward, and around him. “Hell of a thing isn’t it?” then he pulled his brim back down shadowing his face. “Hell of a thing!” his final exclamation.
I stepped aside allowing him to climb out of the stream. He removed a small metal box from his shirt pocket and handed it to me as well. Unsure of myself I slowly reached out and took the tin. Then with a knowing nod, he turned and walked away. I stood there watching him as he walked out of sight, and longer still. I stood there on the banks of my river well into the evening not willing to let go of the wonders of the day.
Finally, the chirping crickets broke my trance. In one hand I held a small fly box, in the other, the fly rod. I looked at the river watching the mayflies skate the surface and smiled. “Hell of a thing!” I silently agreed.
As always please feel free to comment. I would really like to know what you think. If you like it great. If you dont, well thats not so great, but that doesn’t mean I dont want to hear from you. Criticism is one of our greatest teachers. And no matter what, keep writing.