Revive - A Quarterly Fly Fishing Journal - Page 62

It was never too late to go fishing in the land of the midnight sun. We thought nothing of loading the canoe on top of the rafting van at 11PM, driving for two hours to a lake or river and fishing until the tiny morning hours. We were mad for fish. Robert bought me my first fly rod and taught me how to use it. Robert was patient with me and freed my hooks when they caught rose, alder, birch and black spruce on a sloppy backcast. He coached my rhythm a bit, showed me how to give a little action to a wooly bugger as I stripped it in, encouraged a roll cast in tight spots and showed me the delicate ways to handle delicate fish. He taught me how to tie my knots, how to cock a rod, how to wiggle a dry fly above a hungry nose, how to set a barbless hook in a cold lip and keep tension on the line until I had a fish in hand. Robert taught me to read water on rivers and lakes. He taught me so much and I loved landing trout.

At first, I fished with Robert, but after a while, if he was out running errands for our rafting company, I began driving to the small lakes outside of Chitna just to catch a fish or two, just to see them rising during the dusking hours. No fish leaps for joy like trout. I fell in love with their shining, shimmering, silver joy.

We eventually moved, the fisherman and I, from Alaska to Northern California to Arizona — where Robert was a fish biologist for the federal government. Life in Arizona was pure fishes, every hour, every day, every month, for almost four years. Robert was growing and researching a crop of 60 000 threatened and endangered fish in outdoor earthen ponds. At night, while the Arizona sun was setting, I would watch him walk out on the levies with his fly rod. He’d fish for his endangered fish in order to inspect them for disease and record their growth progress. His casting was as lovely and sure as ever. Even in a waterless, troutless land, that man found something to catch on the fly.