Fly fishing has a lot of great moments, with the high point probably being the landing of a great fish - there are all kinds of moments that keep me coming back.
Friday had one of those moments brought to me by fishing, although it didn't have much to do with catching a fish, other than that's the reason I was out there in the river and got to enjoy that moment.
It was one of those moments when all of the senses come together in a way that creates an awareness of the surroundings, a full sensory awareness that pushes thought out and becomes, well sort of timeless. The moment seems to last for a very very long time, the awareness of that moment, the act of being "present" stretching and stretching; and yet when thinking back on it later it's obvious that it was just a flash, that it didn't last more than a couple of seconds.
I think the change in weather is largely the reason for it. It's summer and it's triple digit time. It's been hitting 102, 104, 105 in the afternoon. The low, early in the morning, around 85. It's definitely summer, and although the folks at work talk about the temperature like it's some kind of phenomenon, this happens every year. There's no surprise in it. I like the summer heat, treated with respect it is a good time to be out and about. At the lake they begin generating electricity around noon when the AC unit's kick into high gear and and they stop letting water out around midnight. By the time I waded in the river's level had been dropping for a few hours, had dropped a couple of feet, maybe three.
Thursday night a "cold front" came through, temperatures way down into the mid 90's, and there was beautiful rain. Friday morning I walked down to the boat ramp and waded out into the river. Temperature was in the lower 90's and it was raining lightly. No wind, not a breeze. Humidity at saturation, not counting the liquid water falling from the clouds. Overcast, a dim light compared to the day before. Muggy, really muggy. While it was cooler it was also warmer, in a different way, sweat didn't evaporate. Still more pleasant though.
I waded out and the river was flat and shiny. Water temperature not much below body temperature. Just slightly cooler on wading in but instantly adjusted to. The tall trees on both banks were still, no leaves moving. The only sound a distant squirrel fussing at something, a sound I've always enjoyed. It was really nice out there, really nice.
When I reached the place I wanted to start casting I stood still for a moment looking at the area of water I was interested in. A carp, about six pounds, launched up out of the water like a Polaris missile, then splooshed back in with as much noise and disturbance as it could create. I'm pretty sure it's the same carp I've seen jump about a hundred times now over the last few months, right there in that spot. Fun to watch, but it won't bite anything I've thrown. I always wonder what motivates that jump. It does it about once every two hours.
As I smiled at the carp that moment began. Perhaps the leaping antics of the carp put me in the right frame of mind or perhaps it was because I had stopped moving. Whatever the reason the present moment and my surroundings seemingly focused in on me, I didn't try to make it happen at all, it just began to happen.
The haze in the air as I looked up and down the river, that haze mixed with the rain drops created a fuzzy ending to sight well short of how far I could normally see. The stippling of the smooth water caused by the raindrops that were falling about three feet apart in a slow and steadily light rain. I felt the water flowing over the exposed skin of my legs and the gentle fluttering of the cloth of my shorts. I was aware of the rocks under my sandles and how they caused me to shift small muscles to maintain balance. A drop of sweat trickling down between my shoulder blades.
I became aware of the aroma from the river water mixed with the drying mud on the bank. A fishy and fertile kind of smell, pleasant if you like it, probably an odd smell to those that don't get on the water much. If they notice it at all. The squirrel had quit fussing and the only sound was the very slight sound of rain hitting the river's surface, very slight. Up and down river as far as I could see there were circles forming on the river surface, fish were feeding, it was a good sign. Sure enough I would, in just a few minutes, catch a large bass, big enough to take its weight and measurement and try and take a picture of it, but the camera battery would be drained. Oh well.
Feel, sound, smell, sight; they all came together in a cohesive whole to create that moment. I'll carry that moment around in my pocket for a few more days, take it out now and then and play with it, and it will slowly begin to fade, to become one of those moments I know I've had, but like a dream the specifics will have gone and just a feeling will remain. A good feeling.
I have a life time of them, those moments, and more to come, so I don't need to hold onto it too tightly anyway. Fishing is good for that, for bringing those moments.
It's one of the reasons I keep going back.