Saturday, August 15, 2009

Watching the River Run

Have you ever taken time out of your day of fishing and just watched the river? You would be amazed at all you see. Most of us are so focused on what our fly is doing to really notice much of what is going by or going on around you.
I've fished in Oregon for almost 35 years and visited most of this states rivers at one time or another but it's only been in the last few years that I actually started to take the time to look at the river and it's nuances. I know there are many anglers who will claim to know a river intimately and maybe they do but to know a river is much more than just knowing which holes will hold fish. I'm not saying that it is not a part of knowing a river but it's just a part of the whole picture.
Ever notice the way the water runs over a submerged rock and the wake it creates? In the millions of years that a river runs it's course I find it amazing that no two wakes will be alike. The water in a riffle will never create the exact pattern twice and maybe I'm looking at it in a childlike way but you have to be in awe at what nature has provided for us don't you?.
Take a look sometime at the life that goes on around a river and when you take the time to really look you'll see a myriad of activity that goes unnoticed. The shore birds that count on the river for their very existence for instance have you noticed how they go about their constant rituals to survive? The more you watch it the stronger the bond with will feel towards it. I think you will view a river as a close friend instead of just a means to catch fish.
I think few people ever have drawn a river into their soul and made it's presence a part of their life. Frank Moore must have done it on the North Umpqua because no mere steelhead run can stir a man like the Umpqua does for Frank. I think Bill McMillan knew the Washougal in the same way. It must have broken his heart to see what happened to his river and he had to move away because it hurt him so much. I would think it had to be much like losing a loved one. Roderick Haig-Brown must have felt the same way because his writings capture the soul of the river and it's fish.
I feel this way about the Deschutes and although I have been traveling over the mountain for many years to fish this river it has been just the past few years that I have begun feeling a deep abiding affection for it to the point the I am always in wonder at what I see and learn every time I go there.
You see folks it really isn't just about catching fish. It's about so much more than that and until you've taken a river into your heart and soul can you ever feel totally fulfilled as an angler? I can only speak for myself but it was only when the actually hooking and landing of fish became secondary. I think it's the real sign of the contented angler that I have alluded to before. I'm not there yet but I am on the right road....why not try it yourself next time you are fishing your favorite stream.

1 comment:

  1. Very well put. To know a river is a life process. Cannot be hurried. Like a great love, it blossoms slowly and endures. Alas, I fear you are right about those who have been captivated by a river and then had to watch it suffer with depleated fish runs and silted water. It is like losing a loved one. Some never recover. Some have to put distance between themselves and the river. I feel this in Bill McMillan's writing as well. Younger people might call him bitter, as well as Thomas McGuane and others, but they have not yet felt a great love, nor watched it die before them.

    We often have no true appreciation of what we have until it is taken from us.