Contrary to the rumors running rampant in the worldwide flyfishing community, we are still alive and kicking. The annual Spring Freakout went a little long this year, that's all. All told, over a thousand mile in planes, boats and autos, then another few hundred on foot. Not that we counted, nor that it matters, but as a way of tallying the days and the places, distance is a universal language that can be understood - a mental marker between rivers, between valleys, and between fish.
After awhile, the flows run together in your mind, and the sheer immensity of the landscape dislocates your brain...but the fish remain, etched, burned into your synapses, swimming your neural pathways every time you close your eyes.
The one that surfed a good six feet of standing wave to hit your fly, after you cast into the rapids as a joke...
The one that kicked your ass and nearly cost you a flyline in the Big Jam...
The little dude that came out from under the cut-bank to mash your fly at the end of the swing and bounced off of the bank on his first jump...
That brand-spankin'-new hen that ran you into the high tide, then back into the river.
The ones that gave us nothin' but fin.
The ones that moved on our offerings but didn't take, then left us, a fairly evolved higher primate, rolling around on the bank hurling sticks and tearing grass in frustration as we tried and failed to outthink them.
When it comes down to it, the fish are what it is all about. Not necessarily the physical connection, but the mere presence in our world...or perhaps us in theirs. Something about them devolves us, turns us into beings incapable of language, gesturing and grunting in wonder at the silvery creatures moving in the water.
But now spring is over, and we are forced to rejoin polite society. Conversational skill must be unearthed and dusted off, basic grooming habits must be relearned, and the poise and restraint of the genteel guide must be assumed anew - but every time we close our eyes, they swim by again.
We're back...but that doesn't mean we're here.