The last two months have sped past without much time to reflect. In memory they exist as an incomplete collection of moments rather than a linear history. Here are some of them.
At the Head of the Lakes, one of my favorite places, the beautiful and remarkable woman with whom I am closer than I have ever been to anyone else agreeing to become my wife.
A perfect day with old friends roaming and fishing Lake Superior’s North Shore.
Surreal weather in early March bringing summer fish into the shallows of Lake Huron and new friends with insider information inviting me along to chase them; big-lake early-season fish coming easy.
Good company on the magic Au Sable river, in a 1920s Au Sable riverboat, casting self-tied flies to rising wild brown trout, who in some cases obliged me and ate.
Gaping at the unpolluted and moonless starry sky that night, all sounds fading but that of the river, soaking in the strong medicine.
Discovering that even without a guide or boat I can find rising trout, cast to them, and in some cases convince them to eat; and do so on the same water I haunted all winter seeking steelhead, but is very different in spring, and full of visible life.
Driving through Chicago and feeling content with how alien the city seemed.
Finding inspiration in the history and astonishing healing power of the Mayo Clinic–St. Mary’s Hospital, its staff, and architecture.
Trusting the heart of a loved one completely to strangers, at the same time literally and figuratively, and finding them in both cases not just capable, but in fact gifted.
Being surprised by the eager, wild Minnesota trout from the geologically unique Driftless Region, who came to hand easily and immediately, as if they knew I only had 45 minutes to fish and wanted to make a good impression.
Returning “home” to Michigan and realizing that those quotation marks are less necessary than they were last year.
Being introduced to a tract of country that is fascinating, beautiful and unique in terms of its fishing, history, and geology; a place that after visiting alone I find myself in a contemplative but slightly frightened state of mind, as if I have been watched, trespassing on some other time’s property, and got out just in time.
Startling at the spiteful, thrashing escape/release of first northern pike of the season and being left wet and grinning.
Feeling slightly liberated by catching beautiful trout on dry flies in a picturesque setting but deciding to not try and take any photos of them; laughing aloud alone in the woods at how much damn fun I’m having.
A huge brown exploding on dry fly while I was looking for a spot to put my foot; the leader instantly snapping back at me flyless, the trout keeping my Robert’s Yellow Drake, size 14, as face jewelry.
Fishing with friends instead of alone for the first time in a month; last summer’s river, running high and muddy, with trash and “Eat No Fish From This River” health advisory signs lining the banks, and bass slashing at hatching bugs.
Spotting a large bass who thinks he is a trout sipping mayflies (early Isonychia bicolors) 70 feet from my vantage point on the bank; somehow managing to place my big streamer in just the right spot to remind him that he is a meat-eater; watching him rise and look at my fly for an instant before inhaling it–only to have my knot fail and line go limp almost immediately.
Realizing later that the bass mentioned above was the most rewarding fish of the night, even though I landed several others who ate unseen from deep water.