Having a greater appreciation for river-angling finale
Each year there are stories and articles about opening day. That special “last Saturday in April” for which manufacturers gear up, promotions are planned, stores stock up, fishermen and women plan, and sick days are taken. It is inevitable, like taxes, like rain, like life, like death. We look forward to dpening day each year. A fisherman may sleep through the ball dropping in Times Square on New Years Eve, but will be wide awake at the crack of dawn on opening day.
I know. I married one. Twenty Opening Days ago. Twenty Closing Days ago. Beginning for us on the Clackamas River outside Portland, Ore., our time together was counted not so much in years, but in seasons. Seasons fishing with little sand crabs and sliding sinkers off rocks guiding rivers to the sea. Seasons on the Warm Spring Indian Reservation fishing the Deschutes for rainbow trout with barbless Norwegian hooks and hand-tied flies. Fishing the Columbia River for salmon and the John Day River for Walleyes.
Later there was throwing nets to catch bait off the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, and then the reservoirs in the Sierra Nevada. For the last 10 years, we have fished the Carson and Walker rivers and the lakes – Heenan, Pyramid, Frenchman’s and Caples. What a wealth of good times shared shoulder to shoulder with my husband and sons. So much has been felt and enjoyed.
With each season came a set of regulations. Not exactly from a higher source, but from some Fish & Game bureaucracy. Something that tells us what we need to do to be fair and keep it all going for everybody. When to start and when to stop. Special net restrictions, regulated uses of hooks and gear and methods, etc. And if it’s all done right, it comes out like a code of ethics- not just for fishing, but over the years, for one’s life.
Personally, if I owned a hotel, I might consider putting a copy of the fishing regs in nightstands for travelers, like the Gideons place bibles. You could do worse.
My husband died Sept. 9. And this year I find myself reminded of closing day with a great amount of gratitude for the life we built together at the lakes and streams of this great planet. In our way, we honored the four directions, as we got to know them and interact with the seasons and the tides and the hatches and the great forces called forth from each direction that change the colors of the trees and send the birds flying or tell the bulbs to divide, the seeds to sprout and the fish to swim.
In Ralph’s family, the men has always made waffles. Last weekend, I was going to break tradition and make them myself. I burned the first one. Then, on the second attempt, the waffle iron began to smoke. By the third one, the wires were in flames and the project was off. Like an echo from afar in my mind’s ear, I heard two messages from Ralph: “Get Micah a waffle iron” and “Closing day is coming, so get out there and fish!”
So, let’s honor closing day, Monday, Nov. 15. This is the day after which one can not fish the rivers for trout. The lakes are legal all year. But, you are going to need a thermos of hot coffee or chocolate, and maybe a Johnny Handwarmer to keep those fingers from getting too still to tie on a Panther Martin or a Castmaster at Caples Lake.
Let’s honor the people who help out, and the game wardens and the guides, the fish, the bugs, the outfitters, the beavers, the fish biologists and the people young and old who live by the seasons and are guided by the timeless directions of this great planet, our Mother the Earth, with whom we will all, eventually, become one.
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