Thank You...And Keep It Coming. Please. - Spey Pages
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-21-2020, 05:04 PM Thread Starter
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Thank You...And Keep It Coming. Please.

Like many of you, I suddenly find myself unable to do what I normally do and at a loss for much of what I took for granted just days ago. I'm a high school teacher. Well, I guess I still am, even though I can't get into my classroom or actually be with my students. I'll be honest, that wasn't so bad for the first couple of days. No pre-dawn starts, no seemingly endless after school and evening meetings, no cafeteria or detention duty, and I got more than 20 minutes to eat my lunch and wash my dishes. That last bit has been especially nice. Anyone who works with or even knows a teenager also knows that they can be in turns, exasperating, infuriating, hilarious, life affirming, and heart warming. Now, the 90 or so that were a bigger part of my daily life than my dear wife of 28 years are mostly absent from it. Voices and faces on a computer screen just ain't the same. I'm blessed to work with a remarkable group of colleagues, too. Really smart, funny, caring, talented folks who always seem to know how to keep the important things in perspective and do their best to help pull the load. They're just part of my virtual world now, too.

I have made some good progress on the rod build, and I'm looking forward to some time at the vise. But we're still a ways off from the decent fishing here at the 45th parallel. The water is a tick or two above freezing and still pretty high. There are ice chunks bobbing down the bigger rivers. I'm also old enough now to know that I'm not bulletproof or completely buoyant, so I'm choosing to hold off on the stepping and swinging for a few more weeks. As John Gierach succinctly put it, "Death can take a big bite out of your fishing time."

What's worrisome is that for the first time in my life, I'm looking out at April, May, June, and beyond with some apprehension. June in Maine is normally the proverbial bowl of cherries, almost like a whole month of Christmas for a little kid. The first weekend of the month, Dad and I take our annual landlocked Atlantic salmon-brook trout-smallmouth bass trip to the bug infested woods and pristine waters along the Canadian border. He started going there in the early 60's as a college undergrad. I have black and white pictures of him fishing there with his dad who died when I was still in grade school. It was the first place Dad ever took me on an overnight fishing trip. I was in the sixth grade. It's funny, but what I remember most about that first trip was that I got to miss a day of school. Mom was a teacher, and she NEVER let me miss school for anything except life threatening illness, and sometimes, even that had to be delicately negotiated. I'm still not sure how Dad talked her into springing me from class.

I'm 50 now and Dad is 78, and we have gone almost every year since. A few things have changed; he lets me pilot the boat, and I fish a 5 weight with a Hardy Perfect instead of a spinning rod and closed face Zebco, but our routine is still the same. Make the four hour drive after school on Friday and start tossing bass poppers on a small, remote lake at first light on Saturday while it's still flat. There are exactly three camps (what we Mainers call cottages) on the lake, and I don't know as I have ever actually seen people in any of them. I've encountered more loons and eagles than fishermen there. Way more. And the fishing is almost silly good. It's mostly big and medium size smallmouths that jump like NBA stars and pull like little Clydesdales. Thirty in the net between the two of us before lunch isn't unusual. If the breeze kicks up by early afternoon, and it usually does, we pull in the boat and fish one of the prettiest streams in the East for native landlocks and brookies. It's actually one of the few places in the world where you can do that. As easy as the bass fishing is, this is technical, challenging stuff. The water is gin clear, and the salmon see lots of flies. They spend most of their lives deep in one of the two lakes at either end of the stream, so they tend to be a little moody and twitchy in the shallow water of the stream. But they will eat from time to time and reward you with a fight that beats anything else with fins of the same size. Dad will nap in the late afternoon while I continue to work the stream, and he usually has the steaks on the grill in time for us to have one more short session on the water before dark. To call that weekend a little slice of heaven doesn't quite do it justice.

For the next few weekends, it's hard to decide where to go and what to fish for. The trout streams and smallmouth rivers are at their absolute prime. Bugs are hatching and the fish are hungry and looking up. The big stripers have finally rounded Cape Cod and infiltrated the Gulf of Maine in good numbers and are hot on the heels of massive schools of bait in the estuaries. If I want to, I can target them all in the same watershed on the same day. School is usually out by the last week of the month, and I treat myself to two or three fourteen hour days of solitude and swinging wakers at river smallmouths before I settle into the grind of my summer job.

This year, though, I wonder if it's all in jeopardy. If we go into shelter-in-place mode, I couldn't in good conscience travel all over the state to fish. I wouldn't take Dad on the road, for sure. What I'm looking at is more rod building and fly tying, I guess.

This is all my long winded way of saying that Speypages is probably going to help fill a very big void for awhile. Everything you all post here - the flies, the stories, the questions and answers, the witty retorts and clever turns of phrase, and even the stuff for sale that I can't afford but love to look at - are nourishment for the angler's soul. Unlike just about every other place on the internet, this one is unerringly friendly, civil, and welcoming. So, moderators and posters, I just wanted to say thank you for all of it. And please, keep on doing what you do.

"It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing"
- Duke Ellington
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-21-2020, 05:59 PM
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I wish I could have said it better myself, but there is no way in hell that I can. So, well said! It is certainly going to be an interesting, but hopefully not devastating for the majority of us, year.
Gary
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-21-2020, 06:00 PM
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Well said! I think you really hit on what a lot of us are trying to come to grips with. We are under lockdown here in California as of Thursday evening. I’m certainly not “happy” about it, but I do think it was time to do it (probably should have made that call a bit sooner even tbh). Lots of uncertainty in our home right now: including some health concerns, major economic concerns, and of course uncertainty over when and where we can go camp and fish again. My whole life has been all about being in and around rivers and streams. Literally just hours after birth my parents took me for a short walk and took a moment to pause by the small creek that flowed through the farm where I was born; apparently I objected so vociferously every time they went to leave the tumbling waters of the creek, they eventually gave in and sat down by the creek till I fell asleep. My Dad used to joke that I never really stopped in my fight to “get back to the creek”. I really don’t have the words to describe the heavy toll on my soul every time I’m unable to reconnect for any extended time frame; so I’m really dreading the impact this will have.

It says a lot; that at any other time in life, I wouldn’t have been able to be more concerned about anything else in the face of such “separation anxiety”. There are, of course, far more pressing issues right now to keep me up at night. I’ve even been having trouble finding inspiration to tie some flies, the few I managed felt like a lot more work and came out looking about as unfocused and uninspired as I felt at the vise tying them. It’s been great to see some of the beauties some of you are cranking out right now, and I hope in another day or two I’ll find my groove too. I hope that with the onset of cabin fever, the increased stresses most (if not all) of us will face, and the lack of fishing so many of us will suffer, that we will still be able to have a fun and friendly place to daydream and talk about the things we love most. My sincerest good wishes to each and every one here, and my gratitude to you all (especially our fantastic Moderators!) for providing me a much needed “virtual connection” to the the things I’m missing most right now..
JB
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-21-2020, 06:22 PM
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Aldo well said, I to was planning on a spring trip to Northern BC for spring steelhead and looks like that is out now for this spring anyway as things are shutting down here to and don,t want to be so far from home at this time. The locals are asking people to not visit for the sake of their elders health and I can understand that to as I,m getting on myself. I,ve read and learned a lot from this forum over the years and appreciate all the storys and love the tying and tips and watch the for sale stuff to. It is a great forum no two ways about it ,gentlemen and ladies and shows what is possible if people just have a common interest and stick to it. It will help to keep us going through this time. Thanks to everyone ,mods for all the hours,tyers for all the great flys and helpfull advice and everyone else for their contributions be it stories or advice on gear or a joke. it makes a lot of peoples day a little brighter. Daryl
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-22-2020, 10:53 AM
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Hello Aldo! I'll bet you are a really good teacher. Enjoyed reading your essay here and got thinking about your situation. The one thing that jumps out is that your Dad is 78 and you're still doing stuff together. First, don't take any chances with this Covid. But when this is over and you can do things get right at it man! My father passed at the age of 59 when I was 34 and that is what makes me say get at it. I am 75 now and we are really being careful with all this but I fished by myself (won't have anyone but my wife in the close proximity of the car) but other than that we are gone to ground. Spend time with your Dad when this is over. Outside of this virus restriction and after it's past us I say Hug em if you Got em.
Best
Loren
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-22-2020, 11:14 AM
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Good Stuff Aldo, Hopefully we'll meet on that stream between the lakes. Look for a guy swinging a two hander wearing a brown tilly. Tight lines. Ivan
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-22-2020, 11:32 AM
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Every once and a while a thread comes up on these 'Pages that reinforces my feelings for this community ... this is one of those threads.
Thank you Aldo for sharing your story and your feelings with us, it means more than you know


Mike
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Have you Swung a Spey Fly today ??
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 03-22-2020, 05:14 PM
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Hey Aldo great words ,love that quote death can take a bite out of fishing time ,LMAO ,Also in agreement this group of fisherpeople rocks ,the way we share thoughts and opinions is very classy .Stay safe everyone and hopefully soon we will all have tight lines again .
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