There are the weather seasons, and there are life seasons.
Each season has it's own needs, it own charms, it's own dreams.
Fall is my favorite. Cool weather after a long hot summer, trees turning colors and then going stark and bare, a bite in the air as the water also picks up a chill. The evening light in fall has a taste to it, has a different wave length and is easier on the eyes. Geese fly south leaving behind that raucous group honk and squirrels move like ghosts in the trees.
Winter is my least favorite. When the water gets cold the fish stop biting, and when they do bite they don't fight hard. Long periods of weather that are unfishable, long days of steady cold rain, gray skies. I like winter for walking though. I can walk miles and miles on a cold day. In the winter I live largely on my memories of the previous year's fishing - dreaming of fishing instead of doing it.
Spring is awesome. The water is warming up and the fish begin feeding with a passion, getting ready for spawn. They bite hard and fight hard. When it rains it rains hard, big booms of thunder and bright white-hot lightning flashes. Lots of pressure fronts to get the fish going.
Summer is good. The fish bite well, fight well, and feed often. Long periods of high pressure, no clouds, no wind, just an unremitting sun beating you over the head and cooking your brains. Sometimes it's too hot to fish. Often I've stood in water up to my chest and sweat was pouring into my eyes. There's generally about a month to six weeks when it's hard to get me out side in the summer.
And there are the fishing seasons of our lives.
When I was young it was all new, all a wonder. I had to learn everything about fishing. How to tie a knot, what kind of hook to use, what kind of bait. I had to learn that fish were not evenly distributed in the water, that vast areas of water held no fish at all and some tiny little spots could hold tons of them.
The second season was about becoming really proficient at catching large numbers of fish. Honing the craft so to speak, getting better and better at it. That was also my fishing for bass exclusively time. I studied bass, went to bass fishing seminars, hung out with semi-pro bass fishermen. I developed into a rubber worm aficionado, fishing nothing but them for a period of years.
The third season, the one I'm still mostly in now is about the process. It's about the art of fishing, the enjoyment of fishing just because I'm fishing and not because I'm making great catches. The process of fishing is the most beautiful part of fishing. I'll start thinking about going until my feet start moving on their own. Choosing the spot for the day, choosing the style. Maybe going after a specific species that I don't normally go after, maybe not. Then the serene beauty of being there, just being there. Just being there is enough, more than enough, now. I'm still mostly in this phase, but I can begin to sense the edge of it, the end of it as my comfort zone.
Relatively speaking it won't be all that long before I end up in the final phase. Fishing limited to what my aging body is capable of doing. Limitations are already setting in. I can't wade or paddle as far as I used to. Falling on slippery rocks miles from home could have more ominous results than it would have just four or five years ago. The decline is palpable, undeniable, inevitable, ultimately also acceptable. That knowledge, that feeling of on-coming limitations makes fishing that much more precious right now as I can already begin to imagine not being able to go at all some day. Some day I'll sit above the river, looking down but not seeing it as it is, seeing it as I was. All part of the great wheel.
So...I'm going fishing tomorrow. It's the beginning of fall, my favorite, and fishing these days has a sweetness to it that it never had before. I can't say I like that, but I can say it has heightened my appreciation of it. And that's not a bad thing at all.