October 25, 2010
The view from my window was like a multi-pane travel postcard. Parts of the mountain still had slashes of yellow, but the orange and red fire that glows when aspen turn had faded. There were stands of naked white stalks and broad patches of evergreen, but mostly the mountain was grey and brown, waiting patiently for the impending first snowfall to transform the sleepy town below into a teaming ski resort.
I was on a break from the daily grind with Mary and a lot of family in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. My brother-in-law, Larry, an avid and skilled fisherman, guided me, my son, Stephen, and his father-in-law, Dale, on a Yampa River trip.
Our adventure started at the local Walmart, where we applied for one-day fishing licenses. They took blood, DNA, and urine samples, scanned my driver’s license, and—truly—needed my Social Security number. Glancing about furtively, I whispered my number. My next identity may be that of a burly hunter. And the clerk needed my weight.
After the info was input into a tiny terminal, we waited and waited until I was approved to pay $9 and given a license to kill fish. I understand the background check - we don’t want just anyone fishing in our rivers, but a weight limit? I wasn’t dressed to ride a fish and had left my spurs at home.
The appeal of mountain fishing is the peaceful babble of a stream making its way over and around boulders, stones, and pebbles. The sound is constant, and rather than irritate, it soothes. Bubble, rush, crash, foam, and flow. I basked in the clear-blue, sun-drenched sky and didn’t care if I caught a fish. It is why I was the first person to catch two small rainbow trout—the daily limit and suitable for a child’s menu.
The stoic patience of the avid fisherman is admirable. Larry would find a good spot, get a nibble, and persist in casting with a serene, immovable quality. His long-suffering was rewarded with a plump 22-inch rainbow. He and Dale eventually caught their limit.
Stephen and I were upriver at a spot Larry recommended. I stood silently while my son cast, had some nibbles, lost them, and cast some more. It was pure peace. We talked little and mostly bonded by being in God and Christ’s creation together. When it was time to go, Stephen made one last cast and—no fisherman’s lie—got a strong bite. He let the fish play, then flicked his wrist and hooked him. He reeled in a 23-inch catch of the day. It was a wonderful time!
The moral of this fish tale: In troubled times, it is wise to be patient, steadfast, persistent, consistent, calm, cool, and collected. Don't thrash about and scare the fish--they're scared enough. If you have to act, act with deliberate resolve, not panicky emotion. Hopefully, you'll reel in a big one.