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Ronan's report


Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

Sometimes the river throws everything sheís got at me. High water, dirty water, cold, heat, incredible wind, dangerous animals, poisonous plants, grumpy fish, busted up shins, and a good drenching all point to the conclusion that I should have either stayed home and watched the football game, or reeled up after the fourth time that my best sexy loop got blown back in my face by the gale. Instead of nursing another bottle of Gatorade in hopes of curing my dehydration, I could be relaxing with a cold beer on a friend's back porch and talking about the upcoming ski season.

I get to fish a lot. A lot more than I should. Itís a fact for which I am truly grateful. So I donít have any real sane excuse for forcing myself to stay out and keep bashing myself against the elements on those tough days. Sometimes I donít stay out. But sometimes I feel like I have to. Because deep down I love it and I feel like I owe it to the river. I feel like I need to show her my best even when she deals me her worst, because I want to, and because I feel like I have to after so many great days when the conditions were just right and the living and fishing were far easier.

I know I might not be casting my best or presenting the fly like I could be if the wind was down and I wasnít shivering, but Iíve seen it work out too many times to give up before Iím completely beaten or I run out of daylight. I feel like if I just keep fishing my best that something will happen, even when that something just contributes to the beating Iím taking.

In the fading light, an unseen and unexpected monster eats and gives me only the tiniest glimpse of a chance. I know right away that Iím the underdog in this fight. A huge fall Chinook is a force on any gear and Iíve watched more than a couple break lines, rods, and hearts. In this boulder garden Iím just biding my time. While hiking out, a fellow angler sees me pulling hard and kindly offers to stay in case I need help. I thank him, but my time of need never comes. A steelhead might have panicked and run downstream clear of the danger. This fish doesnít even act like my hook bothers him that much. I pull as hard as I dare, flexing my rod within an inch of its life. But the monster is too strong and it finds the rocks, leaving me without a fly or leader to worry about after I reel up. I feel lucky to have gotten my line back. On the hardest days even the victories are losses.

I guess thatís part of what drives me to stay out and leave it all on the water on those tough days. It''s worth it even if the dunkings and the wind wear me out and I can only put in a couple of hours. Itís the act of reaching that point where Iím not sure if mental exhaustion or physical exhaustion will be the one that sends me back to the truck that makes me really appreciate those other, easier days. Walking away from the river thoroughly beaten but knowing I gave it everything I had never feels that bad.

Take Care and Fish On,
Matt


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