July 12, 2011
It’s my birthday, and I’m on a plane bound for Anchorage, a place that is most certainly not the currently burning and dry New Mexico. From there, tomorrow, I fly over the Alaska Range to the Bristol Bay drainage, Dillingham for the night, then the Nushagak where McGeary Creek comes in. Though not always huge, the rainbows there are many. It is my favorite kind of Alaska fishing, rainbows in the bush on a six weight.
This is a work trip, which means that, though saying goodbye to my wife and son made me want to stay home in the most desperate way, doing so is beyond my range of options in a clearly marked location known as “professional suicide”.
I want to whine about this. I want to be with my family, my wife especially, because she and I have been far apart lately, and being farther makes me afraid of the dark. I want to watch Gus jump into the pool today and swim down to grab his Batman action figure. I want to snap photos of him in midair, to worry about sunscreen, to make mundane comment about the clouds and would they please effing rain. At this very moment that my plane has left the ground, I want to go home.
All true fly fishermen, with whom I claim an eternal bond of brotherhood, would look at the drivel above and conjure images of Bob Seeger singing “Turn the Page”. You know the song, where he waxes poetic about what a bitch it is to be a rock star. Greasy spoon diners, being mistaken for a woman, the echoes from the amplifiers ringing in Seeger’s head as he – one pictures Humphrey Bogart here – pensively smokes the day’s last cigarette. Jackson Browne has one of these, Journey too, ballads about the colossal balls these guys have busted while trying to make a buck. I’ve always chuckled at these guys, the same way I laughed when Tony Soprano referred to himself as “the sad clown”. They eat oysters on the half shell when they wake up at noon, have to wear pooty repellant when venturing off the grounds of their mansions, and all they get for their pain and suffering is a dump truck full of cash.
Here I am, on the road again, to catch big rainbow trout in spectacular Alaska on flies tied to imitate rodents that the trout eat a lot of.
The worst thing about Alaska is the feeling of leaving it and wondering if you’ll ever see it again. So much of it you have yet to see, because no, if you’ve seen one river, peak, vast coastal plain, glacier, wolf or bear, you most certainly have not seen them all. There’s always a bigger rainbow trout, a faster one, or a fish so beautiful that it ends your quest to find God.
How dare I complain, you might justifiably ask. All I can say is I’m feeling what I will feel next week when the Chugach slips behind me on my return flight. Except right now, the end of my quest for God is a little hand around Batman.