The TVA did us a favor, sons of bitches, and released Holston Lake waters from first light to the witching hour each day. Had they not, we might have fished the tailrace all weekend. Instead, the gates were thrown open and, as happens too often, the brass floated high on their Clackas and Hydes while we fly fishing foot soldiers scrambled for shore.
So while the well-heeled slept in, awaiting their ten-o’clock launches, building their reserves so they might survive the long day sitting on their asses, high and dry, while staring at the fat Day-glo indicators drifting alongside their watercraft, we drove miles downstream under the cover of darkness and squeezed in a handful of hours searching for risers before the front edge of the too early flood tumbled upon us.
But the drifters didn't see the sun leak over the horizon; slanted rays arriving in luminous waves, breaching the east’s distant dam and washing silently into our hardscrabble riverbed through riffles of muted Fall colors. They didn’t feel the thick fog dampen their cheeks with moist, sloppy dog kisses or hear the quiet whispers of welcome from gentle runs hidden somewhere in the mists; didn’t rub sleep from their eyes with fleece-sheathed sleeves or shake the lingering effects of last night’s Kentucky with cool, deep breaths of this morning's Tennessee. They missed it all while they waited for their boats.
So thank you, TVA, for the impetus to be out there at that magical time. Thank you for putting us on the river before daybreak so we could appreciate those few golden hours that you left us. Thank you for the beauty, enhanced by the brevity. Thank you for the crumbs. They were delicious.
Sons of bitches.