Many years ago my friend Rollie B. observed that I had some pretty expensive interests for a guy who always seemed to wonder where his next meal was coming from. We were at a field trial running top-notch English setters and talking about, among other things, travelling east to enter some of the big grouse trial championships and going west to hunt prairie grouse ‘till winter. And of those other subjects we spoke, fly fishing and its accoutrements were discussed. This was the time before internet so there were no Craiglists or Ebays to search for deals on anything. A fly rod was, to me, a high dollar investment but one I couldn’t ignore and I spent many a long evening paging through the Orvis and Dan Bailey catalogs.
Looking back at some of the old photos I guess I looked like someone more suited to following an old hound at night or sitting on a muddy river bank with canepole in hand and worm bucket near. Of course, there’s no wrong in hunting hounds and I remember some fine evenings chasing raccoons with my buddy’s black & tan Sam and bluetick Moses – and sure, watching a big red and white bobber above a gob of crawlers can be a pretty satisfying endeavor. Peaceful, you know, with no pretentions.
Well, my friend Rollie was a successful businessman at the time, and became more successful. I kinda’ lost track, but the last I heard anything about him he was shooting ducks and doves in South America. I landed a steady job and have been able to get a couple more rods without missing too many suppers but most of my outdoor efforts are going to take place pretty locally.
It’s been a tough spring, so far, and winter doesn’t want to give up. I stopped to take a look at the frozen Embarrass River this afternoon and wondered if it’s ever been iced over this late in the year. Pike River is open and could probably be floated in a canoe until you rounded that last bend and saw the frozen lake ahead. We’ve had a few comfortable sunny spring days and the grouse were drumming outside my door, but a week of snow and cold have put the birds on hold. Running Gabby we moved a couple of woodcock but the evenings have dropped well below freezing and I hope those woodcock found somewhere to feed. There’s hope ahead, I hear, and this week may see temps in the forties.
Spring grouse trials are in full swing and I hope to get to at least one before it’s over. Some of the best folks I know are dog folks and it’s always good to see old friends, and there are some fine dogs competing that I’d like to get a look at. Wild bird trials are at a premium, anymore, and those of us lucky enough to live near those venues really have something special. There are all sorts of competitive dog games to partake in, but wild bird trials date back to the beginning of it and though there’s a learning curve to understanding it all, once you develop an appreciation of what it takes to make the “show,” the tradition, and the dedicated people involved you’ll know it’s worth pulling your boots on for.
I’m getting reports from some of my friends who’ve been out west trout fishing and it looks awesome. My dad once told me I couldn’t hunt and fish every day because life will get in the way. Of course he was correct and I myself have had to grudgingly cancel my slot in this year’s annual Montana trip. Yep, that’s life.
Anyway, the snow is bound to melt, the rivers and lakes will open, and there will be fish to be caught. I can’t wait!