by Collin Cody of 720Fly/Northern Drift Outfitters
The day begins with a subtle push. Just like that, the skiff is now balanced gently upon her substantial shoulders. We are removed from the constraints of clocks, schedules, and daily commitments. For the day, we will trust in the river's internal clock to provide us all that's really necessary. It's this feeling that relieves all anxiety immediately upon launching. It's this ability to check out from the chaos of everyday life that will rejuvenate our minds, bodies, and souls for the next 6-12 hours or however long the river deems reasonable or necessary. The smiles exchanged between the three boatsmen aren't over jubilant or ecstatic. They are simple, yet powerful, as if to say, we made it. We made it to the place we pine for oh so regularly and excessively.
"The pursuit today will be the bronzeback, but really before even hitting the water the goal has been achieved."
After floating under a bridge with a few onlookers no doubt wondering who the goofballs flailing yellow line are, we reach the river's first bend. A definite nice piece of water with a willow downed to provide cover. It's here we hook a fish. A beauty, not a giant, but a good one to be sure. It leaps from the crisp water a time or two and in time comes to hand. More smiles are had. Perhaps a high five, I can't recall. The river continues to push us south at a slow lazy pace. She reminds us how little of a rush she is truly in. Many times throughout the day silence settles into our boat like a cumulus cloud. It sits there, but really doesn't present a cause for worry. Our thoughts, from time to time, no doubt stray back to our weekly chores, but more often than not we simply become enamored by the monotonous pulling of the fly line. Strip, strip, pause. And again. Then once more. It's this rhythm combined with the slow moving water that methodically calms our being.
It's not all zen-like calmness though. Not with smallmouth. These megas up here have a tendency to blow things up quite abruptly and, in most cases, violently. Water stirs, boils, and churns when they decide to tuck their napkin into their shirt. Takes can be seen under the surface or on top where twenty-inch fish eat offerings close to half their body length. It's in these chaotic moments we holler wildy, perhaps only because of the age old adage, "If a tree falls in the woods..." However, the action isn't constant and after the chaos of hooking a big dog, a certain rhythm sets back in. One man rowing while the two others pull on a thin yellow rope. Strip, strip, pause once again. We aren't but a few hours into the trip, fishing a midriver rock bank, when the weather starts to turn.
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