Even in the clearest water, things remain hidden. Safe. Within the shadows, there lies cloistered secrets, secure within the play of light. Eyes strain to see through the layers of shallow depth, and are assured that there is more there. Look. See...
...the waters veil faces within. "The waters open," I am told. "Do you see?"
It is like those Magic Eye 3D books,The Fisherman says; once you gain your eyes, you'll be seeing trout everywhere. His eyes grin with excitement. I strain, trying to see as this man does, and then feel my muscles relax as I stare into mysteries; and, hypnotized by movement, I see. The waters open. For a moment, a wrinkle in time, the water's dappleing softens into glassy sheets -- there they are, holding deep in the pooling calm, alongside the rapids' threatening rush. Coexistent worlds.
Fly-fishing is beautiful, and I am captivated. I remain entanced by the water's whispering speech, and its mysteries I have yet to translate.
A 5 mile hike up narrow stoney paths, switchbacking past high spring wildflowers' aphrodisiac offerings to hummingbirds' courting, led to a high mountain lake; but, more importantly, led to a lake birthing a stream.
The Fisherman said that the lake trout would be smaller than the stream trout. Plus, we hadn't waders with us to reach their, these small ones', rises. Eyes, accute to trout-y places, had spied just the spot on the way up. And, to here retreat was made.
Oh yes, this was perfectly trouty. Two big ones were spied holding in the middle deep, and one small one rose on the calm side of rushing, on the percolating edge. I listened intently, as a mind awake in familiar knowledge and rekindled passion, worked logic, strategizing what bug to tie. What would they rise for? What would be worth the risk for them? Like a chess-player crafting his next move in defeating his pescetary opponent, tactics were developed and enacted. Hands steeped in guiding wisdom tied graceful knots in tippet, and an ant was tied as the chosen bug.
I fished when I was growing up, until I reached the age where a state liscence was required; and by then, I had had enough of being snubbed by fish. I theorized that my scent was abhorrent to the fish, and that was the reason they repeatedly chose my sister's bait over mine -- standing feet away...they chose her, again and again. Farther away? Then, we would change spots. Her's must be the special spot. That was it. Nope. They followed her, along with her special secret. I remember catching a tire and a snapping turtle. I do admit the snapping turtle was a pretty 'nify catch; although, I think that after the rather scarring ordeal of freeing those tightly clenched jaws, my dad enacted the rule that if we hooked it, we must unhook it as well. That was the deal.
I have decided that fly-fishing might be my thing: there are few tires above 10,000 ft., and I am assured by the Colorado Division of Wildlife , that turtles will only snap at me from lower elevations. Therefore, I am called Further Up.
The Fisherman told about the Brook Trout's invasion and the Cutthroat's fight to regain its territory. Colorado streams needed to be cleansed of these "Brookies," their population kept in control to make room for the Natives. That meant, we could have a large dinner!
Brook Trout are beautiful creatures. Under the water's guise, glimpses of orange can be seen below their brown bodies - animated stones upon a base of red algae and streamweed. These faint flashes of color are their tell to a developing fisherman's eyes such as mine. Red dots line their middle, neatly arranged by a Creator's hand.
At the first catch, I learned more. "The jaw, do you see it?", asked The Fisherman. It was large in proportion to the body. This meant that these fish were stunted, were hungry, and had been starving nutritionally. I felt a strange sense of camaraderie with this being in The Fisherman's hands. It was hungry, yet could not eat. It's body lived, but not fully. It's organs and frame were not given what they needed and demanded to grow. As it suckled in dry breaths to its wet lungs, I felt pity. I am a firm believer that creatures have feelings, emotions -- thoughts, even. And, as its eyes darted, fading with breath, I could not help but read from its gaze apologies for the body it presented -- it was not its fault, its lack of meat and size...its body was betrayed by the food presented.
The Fisherman caught Brookies, put them all into a plastic bag, and carried them down and off the mountain and home. There is something supremely satisfying about eating fish caught merely hours earlier in the day, with full knowledge that it had a free life, a wild life, up until the very end; and that its end was humane, fleeting, and not in vain. Its life was not a waste, and its being would now enter into another life, continuing on in the cycle.
~ Sautéed Brook Trout in grapeseed oil with garlic scapes ~
Apple cider vinegar