Friday, December 17, 2010

Reference the Rock

Psalms 18:2
The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.

Ask any fly fisher about her fishing outing and she’ll usually tell you two things: where she fished and what fly she used. For instance you might hear someone say she caught them at Roundhouse Shoals on the far side of the island with a zebra midge. In mid-August, the water was shut off but hadn’t dropped out in our part of the river. So I decided to fish my other favorite spot, The Narrows
Low water had been a scarce commodity this summer and I was anxious to go. When I arrived at my preferred rock pile, I located two square rocks. In between these unusually shaped landmarks, there is a tiny waterfall that pitches into a deep drop-off. I love sailing my line out into swift water and watching it travel back into this select spot. I attached my favorite Partridge and Orange and began to fish. At first, takes were slow. I landed two below-average stockers.
After about thirty minutes, however, I received a stout tug on my line and a remarkable Brown surged out into deeper water. After a short tussle I captured him in my net. I was anxious to try out my brand new camera, an Olympus Tough 8000. Luckily I had it strung around my neck. I hurriedly took two shots of the fish in the net; then quickly positioned Mr. Brown on one of the square rocks, where I laid my rod next to him. He cooperated for a few seconds and I scooped him back into the net and released him. I continued to fish the somewhat bedraggled Partridge and Orange for a few more minutes without a single take. When I reeled in to check the fly, however, I saw why. It was gone! What a relief that the fly had come off after and not before.
I decided to switch to a green Caddis sparkler. Within a few minutes a larger Brown tail-danced for me; and, like its brother, broke ranks for swifter water. My 4 wt. Albright rod and Galvin reel were a match for his prowess, however; and my sharply bent rod made my pulse thrum faster. I kept the pole at the proper angle, didn’t rush, kept focus on the fish and eventually detained him. His large hooked jaw and gold splotched body made a striking image, one I needed to capture before he stressed and died. I rushed to a nearby grassy knoll on shore, laid him next to my rod where for several heart-stopping seconds, he refused to oblige. Finally, with the picture done, I splashed back into the water to release him into a shallow spot. Too late I realized there wasn’t enough water to get him revived. I’m sure the sight of this stooped woman herding a fish into the depths with her net provided many stories for the other fly fishers that evening. Finally, the tired fish rested in a deeper place, turned over once, causing my blood pressure to rise; then righted himself and plunged back into deep water.
This time I had the presence of mind to check my fly. As I felt down the hook, the point came off in my hand! Another near miss on a big fish. My brain turned to oatmeal as I contemplated the possible loss of this great creature.
Having no more of the same flies in my box, I decided to try a grasshopper. The week before I’d read in John Berry’s column as well as Jimmy Traylor’s blog about tying a midge to the bend of the hook below a grasshopper. I’d struggled to accomplish this task and had yet to reap any results. With my morning’s success spurring me on, however, I tied on the rig and held my breath, knowing how easy it was to wrap the entire mess around my rod tip if I didn’t exercise care with my backcast. The “hopper-dropper” settled back into calm water and lingered there a few seconds. Suddenly the yellow grasshopper lurched sideways. Was this it? Did it function like a strike indicator? Sure enough I lifted the rod to find a feisty Rainbow on the other end. A few seconds later, I caught another with the same set-up.
I checked my watch and knew the predicted generation was close at hand and decided to call it a day. As I slogged to my car, I realized all the lessons I’d learned today: always check my fly after catching a big fish, keep more than one type of successful fly in my box, and listen to my fishing mentors.
Spiritual tutorials abound in today’s fishing event. Since the Lord is the corner stone of my salvation, do I cite him enough throughout my daily existence? Each moment in my spiritual life needs a reality check to assure that my feet are on the right path. One method isn’t necessarily the only way to reach those around me and I must listen to my faith advisors. When all these elements are combined with a strong blend of prayer and scripture, then and only then have I built my life on The Rock and not the rock pile.

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