Clinch River 9/1/08
Roughly 121 fish
I caught 23 Rainbow, 9 Browns, 7 Brookies
Personal best 22 inch Rainbow
Being in the early stages of middle age, the point where you are in denial, and the reality of you reaching the end of days is still distant but looming, is hard. Add to that the fact that you have four children under the age of eight while your contemporaries are beginning to entertain Grandparenthood, and that retirement is just a pipe dream…gas prices…food prices…healthcare…I think you get the picture.
With all of this pressing down upon me, I ventured to the river in a way that is very unusual for me. My best friend and I stepped aboard his newly purchased boat and hit a familiar stretch of river. The flow of the river this particular morning was perfect and it was not unusual to be able to maintain a perfect dead drift for twenty yard with very little effort. This basically meant that one cast and all you had to do was just stand there or take a seat and wait for the action. No wading, dressed as comfortably as you would be kicked back in your recliner at home, the conversation easy and open, it didn’t take long for the slow steady pace of the river to work its magic.
Then came the first fish. Not a leviathan, but pretty. Both of us admired the catch and I put it back in the gin clear water and watched it settle back into its feeding lane. Then another fish, and another, and another…I think you get the picture. It was like we were young again. Invincible, strong, smooth skinned, and adept at our sport. We laughed so hard at times that tears filled our eyes; most of the time the catalyst for our humor was so juvenile that only my seven year old would have endured us.
I hooked three fish on three consecutive casts…14”…22” (personal best on this river)…16”. Magical…absolutely magical. On this day, we could do no wrong, and within this span of time it was as if we would live forever.
At some point the thought occurred to me, that just like everything else in life, stress and the level of physical and mental impact it has on our lives is mostly a matter of choice. I CHOSE not to worry about anything and just have fun. I refused to let the day to day stuff that seemed to be constantly nipping at my heels hold any sway on how I was going to live. The most remarkable thing about it is that it worked! By setting myself at ease with my resolve pressing all the crap out of the way, I was able to feel good, to feel optimistic, and to feel like everything was going to be okay. God taught me a valuable lesson. Now comes the hard part; putting it into daily practice.
By the end of the day, I was sunburned, sweaty, I smelled like fish, and had absolutely ruined a good pair of running shoes, but myself and three other guys had drifted a great piece of water and somewhere in that drift I pitched the b.s. that we call “maturity” overboard and it felt great.
As we reached the takeout, the same issues that pressed on me were still there, but I refused to carry them. If they want to follow me they will have to do it on their own. All I could think about were the multitudes of trout that were caught, and the fact that life is quite simply to darn short to fool ourselves into thinking that being a grown up means worrying and fretting. Sure we will have to butt heads with crap every day, but it is how we deal with it that dictates just how big those issues are. Someday all this will be over, and I choose to look back on my family, my friends, and those magical river moments instead of letting the things that really don’t matter rule what is actually a pretty darn good life.
And to think that I have not been a fan of the Clinch...