Friday, October 4, 2002

Musings Upon Another Season’s End

I’ve written before on the end of trout season. It’s often a melancholy time for me. I’ve never liked endings, even temporary ones like the passing of trout season. Perhaps in an attempt to distract myself, for the past few years I’ve taken to hosting a party of sorts on the last day of the season. I invite a few friends – whoever can come – to join me on some stream and fish the day away.

When the day’s fishing is done, the waders peeled off, rods stowed, and the initial reports of fish caught and missed submitted, we try to go for a nice dinner somewhere. I always envision a large tender steak or a big plate of pasta with a nice red wine, but it often turns out to be burgers and beer at a local bar & grill. Regardless, I haven’t fished alone on September 30 for a while, though often one or more need to cut out early. That’s OK. I understand the demands of family and job as well as the next guy.

This year was typical. Four of us fished the Rush River near Martell, WI. Some of us even caught a lot of fish. Not me of course. Still, it was a good time to walk in, get to the stream, split up and fish for an hour or two, then join up again by chance and get the report of the last hour’s angling.

I caught up with Bill at one likely looking pool just before he caught the fish of the day – a 16” brown male. Too bad I didn’t have a camera to document the catch. Still, it’s there in our minds’ eyes. Bill then generously gave up the pool to let me catch one, a nice 9” brook trout – my personal best that day. Man, even if they’re small, brookies’re pretty in September!

An hour later, after I’d landed two or three, I caught up with Lew and got his report: 15, although some were pretty small. Kind of like I felt at the time! We found Brian and Bill and walked back to the car for lunch before diving into the woods again in search of more trout, not really wanting the season to end.

Of course, darkness came and the season did end. Three of us (one had to head out early for a son’s hockey practice) went into Hudson for dinner and had a final celebration. Nothing big, just some chat about fish, jobs, kids, spouses… life. I’ve said it before, it’s funny the modest extent to which fishing involves catching fish. The fish, they’re not meaningless of course. I love to catch ‘em. But really, they’re just a catalyst for making a life that’s worth living.