The joys of summer – and a two-weight fly rod
It may be written somewhere, notwithstanding the text surely is in error, that being, summer belongs only to young boys.
Old men can subscribe to the season, too, though William Shakespeare did reflect on the unfairness of it all when he wrote: “Crabbed age and youth cannot live together. Youth is full of pleasure, age is full of care; Youth like summer morn, age like winter weather.”
Feeling a might restless and a bit peckish for some not-so-serious outdoors endeavor, I took leave of the house and the Missus. I wouldn’t be gone long, but long enough.
It’s mid-summer and a boy just naturally busts at the seams. That statement’s true whether the lad is 7-plus-2 or 72. The former just has more time to celebrate more summer days.
So, with little planning the idea was to escape – nearly alone – for a short spell. For company there would be Molly, my black Labrador retriever. Can’t go exploring without a dog in tow.
Anyway, the plot was simple. We were programmed in a manner of speaking to visit The Club’s three-acre lake. There to use a plastic tossing stick to lob tennis ball-size orbs into the lake for Molly to fetch.
It was an easy training session to help keep Molly’s retrieving skills sharp, although I’m not exactly sure why. With a friend’s farm pond being drained and likely not to be refilled in time for at least the early goose-hunting season, I might not even bother buying an Ohio waterfowl stamp this year.
That’s the poverty of being a grown up: Reality hits hardest the older one becomes.
The other lake – the one with the water, I mean – was meant for retrievers to fetch floating training balls. And for boys to fish.
Had I been in possession of a cane pole and some red worms I’d have used them. But I don’t own a cane pole. Neither had I sifted through our homestead’s compost pile for any “Virginia wigglers,” as a friend calls red worms.
But I did bring along my “six-foot-two” 2-weight fly rod, a willowy wisp of fiberglass and graphite. It was a perfect tonic after having spent the last few weeks successfully rifling heavy loads with spinning gear at carp and bowfin.
After finishing the tossing game with Molly, I began assembling the flimsy 2-weight rig. I didn’t rush things, this being summer and all.
As I did, I became aware of my own bit of absence of company, a mark of the aging process that Shakespeare often enough alluded to in his sonnets, poems and plays.
I have lost or misplaced more summer companions than I care or dare to remember. There was Tom, my high school buddy and frequent duck and crow-hunting companion. Tom died several years ago from cancer, and while it had been a few decades since we last hunted together, his departure still stings.
And my oldest brother packed his bags last June and moved to Montana to be near his daughter and son-in-law. Meanwhile, my older brother is ringing the doorbell of his daughter’s Missouri home to do the same there.
Yet Molly and me were not entirely deserted. A redtailed hawk shrieked from a nearby cottonwood and a pair of geese were noisily shepherding their miniature replicas around the pond. They made for satisfactory stand-in company.
I sighed, but not enough that would keep me from properly working the two-weight rod. Something that small requires short casts, and variable winds made the work even more challenging. But like I said, I didn’t have a cane pole nor a can of red worms.
So I would make a cast, strip in line that ended with a hand-tied Sili-worm fly (as close an imitation to a Virginia wiggler as a fly can be, come to think of it).
At that moment I did not need a 25-inch bowfin or a 30-inch carp. With a two-weight fly rod, even a 9-inch yellow perch or a 7-inch bluegill becomes a trophy fish. Because they are.
Of course the day would have an end. Thus, I once more became an old man who’s skipped enough stones and enjoyed more than a few lazy summer days. Still, the clock is ticking.
As Shakespeare pointed out in one of his sonnets: “O, how shall summer’s honey breath hold out against the wreckful siege of battering days, when rocks impregnable are not so stout, nor gates of steel so strong, but Time decays?”