Swedish version


The Rouge River, A Fly and Me

By Gideon McCain

As I begin my day, I wander down to the waters edge of the Rouge River, its tender song reminds me of a quieter, gentler time. Memories of my grandfather, softly grasping my hand, staring out over the racing waters, teaching me to see not only with my eyes, but also with my ears, heart and soul. I sheepishly wade into the cool water, it is chilly, yet, somehow soothing. I close my eyes and face the rising sun, it warms me like a lovers kiss on the nape of my neck.

To my right I hear a familiar splash and the reason I have come to this piece of paradise. I am here to fish, fly fish to be exact. I watch intently as another one of these beautiful creatures jumps, arcs and twists with the agility of an Olympic diver. The sun reflects off of its scaled body, shining with the brilliance and presentation of a new engagement ring.

I am here for the sport of it; the challenge and surroundings are good for the soul. With fly rod in hand, I wade out waist deep into the river. I feel the strong current tugging at my waders like an excited five year old in a toy store. I turn and wave to my soulmate, she is perched high up on the riverbank, steel blue eyes fixed on me, as she is fully aware of my innate ability to get into precarious situations without much effort. I am still not certain if it was fate or divine intervention that the Gods in their infinite wisdom, or incredible sense of humor, decided to create my soulmate in the form of a fifty-five pound Siberian Husky. Nonetheless she has been the best companion I could have ever wished for.

I survey my surroundings; there is only one other person in my vicinity. An older man, perhaps thirty or forty yards to my right. Outfitted in the well-worn paraphernalia of his chosen sport. Tufts of bright white hair protruding from underneath a baseball cap, which is most likely hiding an area of scalp that barely has a memory of what hair used to feel like. His face is gentle and kind, wrinkles carved deep into his flesh, his skin the color and texture of a well-oiled catchers mitt. His features reveal a hard life, yet his smile lines and calm demeanor lead one to believe he is content with the hand life has dealt him. We acknowledge one another with what is known in these parts as the fisherman’s nod.

I begin casting my fly upriver and allow it to float downstream. Each cast is handled with the meticulousness and precision of a gifted surgeon, cutting the air and hitting its mark with bullet like accuracy, whoosh, zzzzt, whoosh, zzzzt, and so on. Reminiscent of Brad Pitt in A River Runs Through It, with two exceptions, first, I look more like Norm from Cheers than I do Mr. Pitt, and second, my fly casting prowess resembles that of a man deep in the throws of a grand-mal seizure, much to the delight of the old man, whose fluid motion and command of the art, certainly could have him publishing videos on the subject. It is hard to conceal mirth when laugh lines are so deeply engraved into ones face. But a least he tried. I even thought I heard Taylor, my so-called soulmate, let out a bit of a guffaw, either her, or one of the fish. I continued on with my quest for excellence in fly-fishing for the better part of an hour, when all of a sudden, the old man spoke to me. Whether out of pity or concern that he might break a rib containing his laughter. He then bestowed these words of wisdom on me, "Son" he said, and then paused, like he could have ever given birth to someone as inept at fly fishing as me, I gather it was a term of endearment. "Son" he repeated, "you know you haven’t had a fly on your line for, well…going on almost an hour, you snapped it off on the second or third cast. His smile lit up his face like a beacon on a lighthouse and we both let out a roar of laughter that echoed up the canyon walls, loud enough to send bears into early hibernation. I smiled back and winked at him, and said, "When you’re as good as I am you don’t need a fly!" The laughter could be heard as far away as Medford. I continued to cast without the fly. Life is good.

© Gideon McCain 2002




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