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Michael Gracie

Eggs and Bunnies

Another Easter, another wascally wabbit …

easterbonesagaincrop

MG signing off (until the next religious holiday)

“Get busy living, or get busy dying”

No surprise Andy Dufresne wound up by water.

So did the folks in A DELIBERATE LIFE, the trailer of which you can view by clicking the play button above. No surprise there either.

MG signing off (because I now know movie people, but I still can’t get your lousy script read)

No fishing stories here, so run along now

It’s the second week of August, and there is nary a single trout fishing story gracing these pages to show for it. Some will inevitably consider such circumstances a sad state of affairs, which it is. And while I could use a choice excuse such as “the water’s too high” or “I’m too busy” or “the dog ate my homework”, that would be juvenile (and even more so, boring).

No, I have no explanation for my actions. I’ve woken by six nearly every weekend day this summer, only to watch the day fly by without wetting a line in the coldwater. A pathetic situation if I do say so myself, which I will. Somewhere between packing for the drive and checking the carp infested flows right out my doorstep, I’ve opted for trout only when it’s forced upon me (lack of aggressive prodding notwithstanding).

I could link back to days of old, re-spinning fishing lore in an attempt to portray a certain image. But I won’t. That’s called posing, and seeing as I’m vehemently opposed to wearing waders between May and September, a front page photo opportunity is completely out of question (although the author’s mug hedges that bet).

MG signing off (to imagine the summer isn’t nearly over, although it is)

In the future, you won’t use a flyrod

If this isn’t the epitome of fly-fishing I don’t know what is…

No need to ask how I happened upon something having to do with radio controlled helicopters as the pony has sworn me to secrecy.

MG signing off (so have a Very Merry Christmas)

Announcing my entrance onto the professional poker circuit

It’s been a long time coming, yet the irritation I’ve felt for years is now gone. It is welcome relief, finally figuring out your place in the world, your purpose. At minimum I now know what mine is not.

Pete McDonald penned the epiphany, months in the making, after reading this piece by Alex Cerveniak entitled Why You Suck at Fly Fishing. Thoughtful by design, Mr. McDonald concludes that whether or not you are any good at the quiet sport makes no real difference. Instead, listen to the inner conscience, and do what you love no matter the accumulated skills.

The funny thing is, I read Alex’s piece too, but came to a decidedly different conclusion at the outset.

They’re always moving, covering as much water as possible, only slowing down when they’re into fish. While experience gives them an idea of which flies they’ll need for the day, they don’t actually know which ones they’ll be using until they’re on the water. And if that fly isn’t working, they don’t stick with it cause they caught a really big fish five years ago in this spot with it. They will go through fly- after fly after fly after fly- until they find the one that does. When fly changes don’t work, they’re adjusting leader and tippet diameter, or leader length, or the distance between their indicator and the fly, or the amount of split shot on the leader, or their drift, or anything else they have control over.

Once consumed, I said to myself…

That’s MG to a tee. Always moving. Always changing. Controlling what can be controlled. No wonder I kick so much ass!

Displaying confidence, wholly justified, I was nevertheless haunted by subconscious reservations. Compadre McDonald finally spelled it out for me…

A couple years ago I said in a post the only two rules of fly fishing should be, Don’t be an asshole and make the cast. Now I’m pairing it down: Don’t be an asshole; that should pretty much be enough.

It’s now clear I can no longer participate in fly-fishing because it’s inevitable I will break the rules. Since I was permanently banned from the Andros South card table (for taking…cough cough…everyone’s money…cough cough), I figure I’ve got to pay the rent somehow.

I wonder if the professional poker circuit will let me bring my own chips and deck.

MG signing off (to be an asshole someplace else)

Pop-Tarts! The cornerstone of any nutritious [fly-fishing] breakfast

pop tartsThey pack over seventy grams of cast ‘n crank powering carbohydrates, and are available at finer food outlets across the 50 states. That is, unless you’re Pete McDonald. Portable, packable, and chock full of preservatives, this individually-wrapped foodstuff might just be the most efficiently contained source of 7 vitamins and minerals a fly fisher could get their grubby little paws on.

It puts power packs, cliff chips, and goop-de-goos to shame – the ubiquitous, sometimes colorful, and always sweet sensation…Pop Tarts! The cornerstone of any nutritious [fly-fishing] breakfast.

I’m partial to Frosted Blueberry, but sometimes presentation forces decisions (as opposed to decisions dictating presentation). Smores run a distance second, and I’ll settle for Frosted Strawberry over a frozen bacon, egg and cheese burrito any day. Ok…maybe not.

What’s your foundation, for a good start to a morning skunking?

MG signing off (fingers crossed that store will replenish their blueberry stocks before my next visit)

A birthday gift winds up worth the wait

I’ve been promising a buddy of mine a day on the water. For about four fricken years. Things just never seemed to work out though.

His birthday came around, and he, the wife, and the kids packed up and came to Denver. Then the whole family got a flu bug, and once again it looked like fishing would be out.

The phone rang at 9:30am. We’re all feeling better, dude. Come pick me up.

It snowed, never broke twenty degrees, and the wind howled.

And we stuck pig after pig after pig after pig.

Happy birthday Hans.

MG signing off (to thaw my still frozen fingers)

If someone lands a fish but no picture is taken, was the fish actually caught?

On the ride up to a Gold Medal trout water today:

Angler 1: I rowed that stretch 25 times last year. We stuffed pigs every run, and by the end of the season I was sick of the place. But I did hook one that would have pushed 20 pounds.

Angler 2: Did you get a picture of that fish?

Angler 1: No, I didn’t land it. But I did land one over 13.

Angler 2: Did you get a picture of THAT fish?

Angler 1: Yea. I think so.

Uncertainty remains, no matter the time nor the place nor the size. Although size matters (and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise).

Some fish for the peace and serenity, while others do so to knock everyone in their gang off their perches.

Some take pictures to capture the surroundings – they conjure magic in pixels. Others accumulate bragging rights, for the ride home and beyond.

I fished without a camera on my person today – the Pentax Optio that became a mainstay of my gear bag is gone.

I caught one decent rainbow while everyone was watching, and then ventured off on my own. A BWO hatch appeared out of nowhere, on a bluebird day. I cast tiny flies onto fast water shadowed by tall pines. And picked up a handful of dinks.

Neither art nor hero shot to speak of.

Did the entire day even happen at all?

Give and take

In the simplest terms, you present the fly and the fish takes it. Drill down however, and things are not quite so easily defined.

The fish gets hooked, and subsequently gives up significant amounts of energy trying to break free. Sometimes it does, taking a tiny piece of your spirit along with.

Other times you land the fish, and take in its beauty. Then you release it, at once giving the fish back its life and giving the ecosystem surrounding it a chance at a better one. Meanwhile, the fish and that ecosystem have given you something too. A racing heart. A sense of accomplishment. A moment of bliss.

Even if the fish finds a way to escape, it has still provided you with something. A lesson learned.

From the long-term perspective, everyone has their days…what seem like eternally memorable outings. Sometimes it is entire seasons. Even years. Nonetheless, we constantly yearn for more.

Are you taking away, or giving your all? Wantonly? Relentlessly? Generously? Unexpectedly?

I do not have the answers myself. We’d all like to think that when we’re standing on the bank we’re at one with our surroundings, but we might be fooling ourselves. How do you measure such symbiosis, when for each success there’s a failure waiting right around the next corner? And visa versa. The magic, consistently balancing the opposing forces, seems almost out of reach when you consider the next tick of the clock. How will you know if you achieved that harmony until you see the final weigh-in?

My guess is all you can do is hope. And keep fiddling with the scale.

MG signing off (to take a careful look around)

Editor’s note: There is one certainty: if you make that cast and a tree branch takes that fly, you are taking a trip to the fly shop, and giving someone your cash.

Barry Beck says “Cathy can outcast me with one hand tied behind her back”

Cathy Beck denied this was the case, and said she’s just getting set up. It wouldn’t be the first time, as you’ll soon find out.

I had a chance to sit down with Barry and Cathy Beck, the first couple of fly-fishing, at the Denver International Sportsmen’s Expo. They’ve been in the fly-fishing business their whole adult lives, running a fly shop, hosting guided trips throughout the world, and capturing images that are found in publications galore. They need little more in the way of introduction, so we’ll get down to the nitty gritty.

Transcript follows…

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