Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Best Trout Fishing Trip Ever


"… and as she’s releasing this big, beautiful brown - a fish she’d caught with G-Man’s setup and from the pool that G swore was as empty as Frank’s beer cooler - she looks up, gives him a wink, and says that when he’s ready for some real fishing lessons he should give her a call. Poor G-Boy couldn't utter a word."

Hearty laughter flares around the campfire, though G’s is understandably a bit forced, as another best trout fishing trip ever story draws to an end. It’s time for a brief nature-driven excursion beyond the fire’s bright glow, another pass of the flask, and the start of the next tale. My turn.

Throughout the last story - one that this familiar tribe of anglers has heard a dozen times and in a dozen forms but never tires of - I wondered which of my trips to recount. Which is my favorite trout fishing outing? Is it that crisp winter day spent soaking up the weekday solitude of North Carolina’s Wilson Creek? Perhaps the misty summer splash in Wisconsin’s Driftless Area. Or is it my week in Colorado, rock-hoping the Arkansas, or that magical snow on Virginia’s Smith River? All great trips. All great stories. All worthy of telling. And embellishing, of course.

But which was the absolute best? Which to tell? The answer comes in the pop of an oak knot and a shower of sparks from the blazing pyre. My favorite is the next trip – the one that I’ll take tomorrow, next week, or next month. Yes, my next expedition will be the best.

On my next, my very favorite, trout outing, I’ll be just down the road, wading my comfortable home waters, replete with willing rainbows and browns. I’ll be hiking the Southern Appalachians, along tight, overgrown trickles, chasing brilliant wild brookies. I’ll fish classic limestone creeks in Pennsylvania and wade, waist deep, in fly fishing’s past. I’ll travel west to snaking, high plains fisheries, in search of west slope and Yellowstone cuts. I’ll push to the coast to find golden trout in a golden state. I’ll go global. I’ll stay in my own back yard. It’ll be the best trout trip ever.

My fishing buddies will be along for the ride. T-Bone and Couscous and Po’Boy and Finn. Pipes, The Professor, Puddin' and Gin. I’ll fish alone and bear witness to the white-noised silence of a backcountry mountain stream, with no hint of another man’s existence. I’ll teach Mary to fish, or the grandkids. I’ll fish with someone old, someone new, a fellow blogger, maybe you. We’ll enjoy each other’s company.

I’ll take my delicate TFO two-weight, my trusty Redington four, my new-and-itching-to-go-fishing St. Croix five, my elegant Winston six. I’ll drift dry flies, swing streamers, and bounce nymphs on the bottom. I’ll untangle birds nests, free tree-snagged backcasts, and pour sand from my boots. I’ll wade barelegged in the summer heat, bundle in neoprene against winter’s chill, stand cozy and dry in the drift boat. It’ll be great.

On my favorite trip I’ll land that local-legend rainbow. On my favorite trip I’ll lose yet another huge, savage brown to the tenderness of my tippet, the inadequacy of my knots, or the heavy-handedness of my rod play. The catch will be satisfying, but memory of the loss will quicken my heart for years to come - the fish forever six inches larger than if it had been netted. Maybe eight.

I’ll see strange new places and sit on rocks that have molded to my backside after countless afternoon breaks. I’ll fish an hour, a day, a week. However long, it’ll end too soon.

Yes, the next trip will be my favorite, but only until the one that follows. That is, if one does. For to insure that I, and my children, and theirs, are allowed to realize our best trout trips ever, we need to diligently protect and painstakingly restore our coldwater habitat. It’s a small slice of what needs to be done to reestablish our natural heritage, to keep our earth alive and healthy and fresh, but it’s a start that just might inspire us to follow through, downstream. For, after fishing a cool, tumbling creek in the midst of a breathtaking mountain cathedral, how could anyone not wish to keep this orb alive, keep it wild and beautiful, keep it ready for the next, best, trip? How could they not act?

The tribe returns to the fire and my story time has come. But how do I tell the tale of my best trout trip when it’s still ahead of me? How do I wriggle off this temporal hook as so many trout have wriggled off mine over the years? Simple. Like any good fisherman, any good storyteller, I’ll make it up as I go.

"It was a Carolina scorcher, so hot that the snakes sizzled as they sunned themselves on streamside rocks. Loki and I rigged up and started down a trail that would make a mountain goat puke…"

It was, it is, it will be, the best trout fishing trip ever.


Note: My heartfelt thanks to Trout Unlimited for their heroic efforts on behalf of us all to keep our coldwater fisheries alive and vibrant. Thanks also to the Outdoor Blogger Network for partnering with TU to provide a special opportunity to us unworthy bloggers. Here's hoping that this post catches your fancy and that my Next Best Trout Fishing Trip, Ever, will be in The Last Best Place, Montana.

June 20th Update: Pinch me. This piece won. I'm going to Montana. Holy @#$%.

33 comments:

upacreek333 said...

Beautiful, Mike... the perfect way to start off the contest! Good luck!

Fly Waters Edge - Kevin said...

Well said Mike, Very Well said!
The next trip... Kudos sir!

Outdoor Blogger Network said...

Mike....wow, this is an outstanding essay. Well done and thank you for entering.
Rebecca

Cofisher said...

Mike, the wonderful words you wrote are what all bloggers strive for. Job very well done.

grannier said...

What a wonderful story. You have a real gift with words...my vote is for you to win!

Jay said...

Very nicely done. Give the man his trip already.

HighPlainsFlyFisher said...

Some fine words that ring very true there! Really enjoyed reading that...makes me want to plan my "next" trip....Jeff

Passinthru Outdoors said...

Excellent post Mike. This is going to be hard to beat. Thanks for sharing.

Passinthru Outdoors Blog - Sharing the Passion

Will K said...

Wow, great writing! I really enjoyed it!

(If you happen to read my entry into the contest, I SWEAR I didn't read any, including yours, before writing mine! ha! I guess there's a similarity among fishermen that can't be avoided!)

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and stories. Never enough.

Mike said...

Thanks everyone for the kind words. I'm honored.

Will, we fisherman are always looking to the next trip, around the next bend, to the next cast, with great optimism. It's how we're wired. So the parallels in our entries come as no surprise to me. In fact, they validate one another. Best of luck!!!

And Jay, from your lips to TU's ears... :-)

Ty said...

Excellent, excellent read Mike. This is some strong work. Best of luck in the contest.

Steve Zakur said...

Mike, that's awesome wordsmithing. Very well done.

Trout Magee said...

Good luck on the contest. Sounds like a winning post to me. Tight Lines

Sanders said...

Very nicely written. As a fisherman, there is always one more cast, one more fish, and room for one more "best trip". I really enjoyed reading your entry, and look forward to following your writing going forward.

Good luck in the contest...Montana needs you!

Gaeron said...

Mike,

Great job. That is outstanding-ly written and was very enjoyable to read. I hope you make it to Montana (I'm sure you will).

-Gaeron
www.flyonlyzoneblogspot.com

Fontinalis Rising said...

Geez Louise man, that was great. I see why you won. Congrats, and now I'm really looking forward to your posts from MT. I may have to do a little digging on this site, see what else you've got. FR.

Kim@Snug Harbor said...

Nicely done- congrats on your win!

THE RIVER DAMSEL said...

Mike ~ Sooo happy for your win! Enjoy the trip and it will be fun to hear what you think about your Montana journey! It's sooo beautiful...

Chunks said...

Congratulations on your win! Well deserved. We are traveling from RI heading to MT and UT those dates, I can't wait to compare notes and photos!

d. nash said...

congrats!!

Alan said...

Congrats Mike! No surprise...nope, not at all. Creative, beautifully written...a typical post from my favorite blog.

Sanders said...

Congrats Mike! Looking forward to seeing you in Montana...it will be great to fish with you!

Travis said...

congrats to you mike... you deserved it 100%! See you in a couple weeks!

LenH said...

wow...

Ivan said...

congrats mike. i have lurked for a while and always enjoyed your writing. glad you get come out to Montana.

Alan said...

Inspired........
Congratulations. Well deserved.

Ty said...

Congrats Mike. I had a feeling you would be headed to Montana after reading your post. Nice job.

Outdoor Blogger Network said...

Mike,
Congrats to you on your 1st place win.
It was an entry we could all relate to and nod along the entire way in agreement. Enjoy the trip for all it's worth and we'll read along about your adventure. May it be another best trout fishing trip you never forget!
Rebecca

srtu said...

Congrats Mike!

Swamp Thing said...

Holy crap, that was some great writing. Thanks for that.

Sam Costello said...

Congratulations Mike!!!! Have a Best Trout Fishing Trip Ever in Montana! Can not wait to read that fishing trip and see some pics.

Mary Anne Hughes said...

Wow! Congrats on your article. I'm forwarding it to a new acquaintance, who just recently asked me to explain the lure of fly fishing. Thanks for putting words in my mouth. By the way, I vote Mary Anne (if you can forget the mug shot). Have the best fishing trip in Big Sky Country!

Alaska Luxury Fishing Lodge said...

Very nice captured photo of that trout! Never saw anything like that before!