My wife walks through and surveys the angling carnage: frayed tippets and ragged flies, cracked and dented fly boxes, zingers that only partly retract, creaky pliers, patched waders, a cracked stream thermometer, two vests; a belt pack, hook files, wading shoes, a dry patch smeared with blood from some forgotten injury, a 7-piece rod that somehow survived a nasty fall, a clip-on magnifier, four dozen other odds and ends. Some I use each time I’m on the water; some will die of old age having never been wet.
Another pile is spinning gear: a couple of reels and a spool of eight pound monofilament, two boxes bulging with plugs, poppers, jigs, cranksbaits, hooks, and sinkers, a small backpack stuffed with more boxes, line, plugs and pliers. It’s a regular wintertime routine; this sorting gear and clearing of the mind.
Wife: “Do you still enjoy it as much as you used to?”
Me: “The fishing? Or this.”
Wife: “Well, both.”
I do enjoy messing with my gear; although when I’m finished it’s rarely anymore sorted out than when I began.
I can no longer deny that middle age has arrived; if for no other reason the chronic ache in my back serves as a persistent reminder. But they are of little concern to me; the age or the ache.
I have an increasing number of friends and colleagues whose fishing passion seems to have cooled; tempered by an increasingly hectic work and/or family schedule, health, age . . . a dozen other factors, some manageable, others not so much.
I watch this declining angling interest with a sort of detached yet disturbed amusement, vaguely acknowledging that it might someday affect me, although I can’t foresee it. I remain frantic to fish, more so now than ever. I want to fish everywhere; catch everything, or try to.
For 2014? Work harder. Work smarter. Fish more. Pray more. The last two goals are directly connected to the first two but are themselves strangely intertwined. After all, when Jesus wanted men he could depend on he first went to the docks.
A happy and safe New Year to you.