Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Last Grab

I've fished Idaho waters when you were lucky to see a steelhead. For years the only fish we'd see had been caught by methods other than fly. Didn't matter, at that juncture you were just glad to see one. Such an occasion lent hope to the next run. A few years would pass before a tug brought me that much closer to holding a steelhead that had traveled over 800 miles to take my fly. That in and of itself is amazing!

Those early years in the Lower 48 were bleak. On many byways they still are. Were once the worlds largest run of sea run fish ran free, they now hang in the balance infused with fish of hatchery origins that only make their existence more tenuous.

Yet, in all of this, as an angler, I have great respect for these fish. They travel the same arduous journey and migrate through the same challenging gauntlet as their dwindling wild relatives. Although they don't quite measure up to a wild fish, they do command a certain respect and admiration, for they to are survivors.
My last outing of the year was one of my best. Sub freezing temperatures that historically freezes ones hands, guides and feet, were gratefully absent. It's been that way for several years now. And although the fishing has been good for the past several years, this year was more than generous.

My friend, caught his first steelhead. It came on the last day. He was already headed down the addictive road after our first trip. Once he landed his first steelie, he was history. I'm waiting to have to explain his delusional state to his wife, especially come next season.

On that last day, I drummed up a ghost in a new piece of water. Several head shakes later and a few clicks from the reel the fish was gone. It was rewarding confirmation that will serve me well on another day. Towards days end I briefly felt another fish. It was a solid grab that ended as quickly as it occurred. Know it was my last I thought the encounter was fitting. Looking back to those early years, an unmistakable grab would have been reason alone for joyous celebration. On this trip it was more than just.

Shortly afterwords I chewed the fly from its leader, carefully placed it in it's box, and reeled in the line. Before leaving I took a moment to take in the canyon, it sounds and breath the damp smell of a river corridor that holds onto a certain rawness. It'll be another years before I fish these waters again. I remembered the grab and the years where a physical presence was only a figment of an imagination. Heading home, the rain darkens the desolate two lane road. We are fortunate to have fish in these waters now. We don't talk about it, but we wonder for how long.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Green River Looses a Friend

When one thinks of the great waters of the world where we cast a fly, we often associate those waters with keepers whose long association endures them to the waters their lives revolve around. On Utah’s Green River one of those individuals would be, Denny Breer. Since he and his wife, Gracie, established Trout Creek Flies in the remote corner of northeastern Utah, he’s been one of the Green’s unheralded champions. There’s not another person who’s watched over this prolific fishery with more vigilance than Denny. This past weekend a tragic accident ended his life. In his death the river and the fishing community lost a great friend.

Although others may carry on where he left off, you can’t replace the personality and the character he brought to the community of Dutch John and the river he’s associated with. The river, his shop, the meetings he so faithfully attended will all seem unfamiliar in his absence.

Those familiar to the Green River, his shop and guide service know that he offered a welcome matt to anglers from all corners of the globe. He was most at home on his beloved river or those waters he enjoyed when time permitted or with his pigeons. If you were fortunate to share a ride in his dory, count yourself as blessed. Over the past few years, such days were shared by only a few, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t where his heart lied.

We all owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Breer for his relentless persistence. Few know the extent he went to be a voice for this precious resource. The Green River, the health of this fishery, those who love and fish this river are all beneficiaries of his tireless efforts. His authority and knowledge commanded respect in the arenas he wandered on behalf of the river. As an outfitter and angler, he commanded respect as well. He wasn’t shy about letting you know that. I liked that in him, that frankness he often exuded.

Denny’s legacy will live on, his efforts, passion, and character forever recognized in the history of Green River fly fishing. In his passing our hearts go out to his family and those he left behind. I hope you’ll find comfort in knowing that Denny will always be warmly remembered. He will be greatly missed.