December 23, 2014

2014: No Shortage of Good Days Here

The north-western ridge of the Spring Mountains and its
mirror image on the pond.
I am a John Gierach fan, have been ever since I discovered his “Sporting Life” column inside the back cover of “Fly Rod & Reel” magazine. I started reading him about the time that Nick Lyons stopped his “Seasonable Angler” column in the identical location inside “Fly Fisherman” magazine (at least that’s my recollection of the timing). I now own about five of his books, which are really compilations of essays on angling for trout and a bunch of other things to do outdoors. I will own all his books someday, but for now I have enough to re-read them every year or so.

In his book, No Shortage of Good Days, Gierach has a chapter titled “A Good Year.” In that chapter he quotes Annie Dillard as saying, “There is no shortage of good days; it’s good lives that are hard to come by.” As winter was pushing its way into fall I had picked up Gierach’s book and was reading two or three chapters before bed each night. I thought my last trip on December 6th would, in fact, be my last until next March or April (I did not post a blog on that trip), but reading Gierach’s description of winter fishing the east-slope of the Rockies inspired me to visit Cold Creek this morning as the sun was rising. Besides, the weather turned unseasonably warm in Vegas with daytime temperatures pushing 70 degrees, and fishing in the wee hours of December 23rd would seem to favor absolute Cold Creek solitude… something I have not experienced for quite a while.
Feral horses drinking from the Cold Creek pond.
The temperature, according to the Trout Truck, was a balmy 38 degrees when I arrived at the pond this morning. But, as predicted, but for the wild horses I had it entirely to myself; no campers, fifth-wheels, or ATVs anywhere in sight. I was able to enjoy the serenity and contemplate the events of this past year. As for the fishing, I had seven hookups but just three were brought to hand. I played the four I lost for a while, but their battle-worn mouths didn’t hold up too well. All were feeding very deep in the pond; hookups were practically on the bottom. I will say that one of the three was a pleasant surprise, not in the sense of size, but its coloration was still pretty vivid compared to the other two. Must have had good genes from somewhere in the hatchery spawn.
Strong, although small trout, still holding its colors into the cold of winter.

Another fine Cold Creek rainbow succumbed
to a deeply fished nymph.
A flap of the tail and droplets scatter.
It has been a good year, with many blessings from The Lord. There is much to be thankful for here.
I am most thankful for my son, Doug, who overcame his personal struggles this past year and reasserted himself into our family, and back into “life” in general. I am so proud of the man he’s become, and I thank God every day that Doug is my son.

In fact, all my sons have been blessings to me this year. Each of them is thriving, working a good job, and taking care of their business. Even my youngest, Evan, has found part-time employment while starting his freshman year at college, becoming one of his store’s top sales persons. And speaking of school, while Evan started his college adventures this year, Emily also started kindergarten. Emily seems to be very pleased about going to school, even if getting up for the 7:55 AM "first bell" can be taxing most mornings. Emily is blessed to have brothers who love her, and who are willing to babysit her on those occasional nights when we can’t, or don’t want to, take her out with us. And it doesn’t hurt at all that their girlfriends love to shower her with attention, too.

Taking a rest before returning to the deep.
Close-up of the wild horses.

On the table in our foyer is a family picture from last January. On the matting that accents the picture are three verses from Psalm 127:

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;
They shall not be ashamed,
But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.
As for me, personally, working on our 35th year of marriage is a milestone worthy of a blessing, I should say. Denise has been the love of my life for as far back as I can remember (would you believe 6th grade), and to have shared all these years with her is a testimony to her generous, patient, and forgiving ways. All in all, we’ve had a great 35 years that most would covet, and I pray the Lord gives us another 35 on the down side. And work was as stimulating as ever in 2014, filled with challenges and new directions. I can sense, though, that I’m beginning to long for a new start, and so being within 2-years of retirement eligibility has begun to free my mind toward other possibilities, but most of all spending more time with Denise and our family.
Beaded nymphs fished deep, that was the ticket.
As to the fishing, which this blog is mostly about, 2014 was a very good year.  Best of all, fishing Dacey Reservoir with my brother Bruce and son Doug was a special treat.  In fact, the four days that Bruce visited was extra special for me, probably because it was the first time I recall we ever fished together.  Of course, Wayne Kirch was especially generous this year, culminating in my feature article published in Southwest Fly Fishing magazine.  A standout year on the water, all the way around.

So, while the fishing was very enjoyable today, two days before Christmas, my thoughts were reminiscing of a year with no shortage of good days.  I pray that God blesses you in the same way.
Grizzled, old FisherDad... although you can't tell it in my face this was
a very peaceful morning, full of solitary reflection on the year's events
while casting to the rainbow trout of Cold Creek.

November 10, 2014

Veterans Day Salute to Cold Creek

Cold Creek pond at sunset... looking northeast at the Sheep Mountain
Range. (Note older fishermen, leaning on truck bed, discussing
important things.)
For those of you who read FisherDad for notice about the fall and spring trout plants in Cold Creek pond, you will be pleased to know that it was recently stocked as evidenced by my trip on the eve of Veterans Day. Speaking of which, I pray the Lord bless all of you who have, and continue to, protect our liberties by serving in the military. 

Given this odd Monday sandwiched between Sunday and a Tuesday holiday, I thought it a good opportunity to check out the pond. The weather was almost perfect, probably right at 70 degrees when I arrived at 2:00pm, but it did drop to 60 degrees right at sunset. There was very little wind.
Wild horses feeding in the waning sunlight.
As usual, the feral horses were numerous. I saw at least three distinct herds but just a few foals. In the course of fishing for a couple hours, two of the herds made it to the pond to drink. Regarding the pond, the ditch was flowing reasonably well and the pond level was pretty high.
Feral horses of Cold Creek, greeting me on my journey to the pond.
I must say I was a little surprised by the number of folks who had the same idea as me (12 other anglers besides me). There were two men who brought two of their youngsters, and another couple of guys who had a woman waiting for them in a car. Then there was a set of grandparents with their two grandsons. Later a couple of older men would show up to fish (maybe they were around the age of 70). If I were to guess ages, all the kids were in the 5 to 7 year range. Everyone (except the last two men who arrived) seemed to be doing well, although the grandparents and grandkids were doing especially well. And what I liked about that was they were releasing all the trout they caught. All but the last two left the pond within the first hour, so I shared the last hour with them. These older guys seemed a little unfamiliar with the pond; their selection of bait and hook size for these smaller stocked trout resulted in a "skunking" for them, I'm sad to say.

Typical of the stocked rainbows caught this afternoon.
This one on a rust colored Denny Richard's stillwater nymph.
I admit I had a slow start. I erroneously started with a floating line, so I had to walk back to the truck to switch to a full sink line. Then it took a little while to find the best fly, which turned out to be Denny Richard's stillwater nymphs. But once I got going I reeled in about 9 or 10, and I lost another 5 when hooks pulled out of the mouths of these smaller trout.
This trout fooled by an olive colored Denny Richard's stillwater nymph.
I was fishing my favorite delicate fly rod, a "home made" 7.5-foot, 4-weight rod. It casts like a dream, and is light enough that playing 9-inch stocked trout can actually be enjoyable. It was especially fun to practice double-hauling casts, probably more fun than actually catching the fish.

It wasn't a perfect two hours, but it was extremely enjoyable all the way around. (My wife hates the word "perfect." She says only God is perfect, and of course my wife is perfectly correct.) I hope those of you who will soon run up there to fish will have an equally enjoyable visit as I did on the eve of Veterans Day.

Enjoy these last three photos.
Unnamed peaks on right block the view of the Sister Peaks (McFarland
Peak off photo to the right).  The glowing cliffs in the center are the
 northern edge of Mummy Mountain ridge.
There was a dusting of snow on Willow Peak above the town of
Cold Creek. It became more evident with the setting sun.
Note the lateral parr marks (oval circles) still visible on this stocked
rainbow. My 7.5-foot, 4-weight rod was a treat to cast, and it was just
right to play the smaller trout.

October 17, 2014

Dacey Bass Fishing

Looking southeast across McGill Reservoir; note dust trail in the
air from the Trout Truck
Patience.  It's an acquired taste. For some of us (me...), that acquisition can span decades. I had heard it said that hardship fosters patience, patience breeds character, and that character produces hope. Paul, in Galatians 5:22, says that patience is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, and I suspect that my later-life rebirth explains that missing fruit in my younger years. 

It had been 139 days since I was last fishing, and even that wasn’t a “pleasure” trip but rather a photo shoot for Southwest Fly Fishing. My patience was being measured by a 4½ month hiatus. So you can understand why I returned to Dacey Reservoir for one final trip (maybe…) before the December ice-over.
Outlaw Escape loaded into the Trout Truck, ready for the morning's
journey to Wayne Kirch.
One of two mature ladies wearing sun-hats who fished from kayaks.
If you follow this blog or know me personally, you are aware that while I appreciate all types of fishing, fly fishing is what I know best and is my sole form of angling at this stage of my life. Today’s fly tackle and techniques allow anglers to fish for all sorts of species in warm, cold, brackish, or salt water. I have friends that have caught shark, tarpon, sailfish, and redfish on the fly. I know others who have caught striper both in the surf and in freshwater lakes. Today, even carp (what I mistakenly referred to as “suckers” in my youth) is fine sport on a fly rod. But my attention has always been drawn to the streams and lakes of the eastern woods and the western mountains.

The family Salmonidae is awe inspiring for most fly anglers with its subfamilies of salmon, trout, chars, freshwater whitefishes, and graylings. I my opinion, trout, in all their forms, are the most beautiful of freshwater game fish. And, in my opinion, they live in the most attractive environs that stir my heart. Of course, the fact that they will take a fly voraciously is indeed an incentive all on its own.
McGill Reservoir at sunrise.
I was the first to arrive at the reservoir, and the weather was great.  It was calm, wind around 5 miles per hour.  I launched the Outlaw Escape and within 20 minutes I was into a small black bass (i.e., largemouth). Throughout my six hours fishing I landed 5 each of trout and bass.  Three of the bass were 12 to 16 inches.  All of the trout were small, recently stocked for the spring season. The bass were a surprise given the mid-fall season, although the daytime temperatures were still reaching the 70s. And maybe the cooler temps were the reason the bass did not jump, not even once.  The three larger ones were strong fighters, don’t get me wrong. But there’s nothing quite like hooking a 20-inch rainbow that will leap three feet out of the water four or five times and make runs stripping line off your Galvin reel.  Of the dozens of bass I’ve caught at Kirch over the years (albeit during the trout seasons of spring and fall) I really don’t recall any leaping to any memorable degree.
One of five largemouth bass from Dacey.
Cottonwoods in distance reveal Dave Deacon Campground,
looking west from Dacey boat launch.
Largemouth bass, taken from
Dacey Reservoir.
Looking down his gullet, fooled by an olive Woolly Bugger.
So, all that to say while my time fishing was a wonderful getaway that soothed my soul, it was not quite what I expected or was wishing for.  I am frequently surprised how life throws curves when you are expecting fastballs, and vice versa.  When these “switcheroos” occur I am reminded of the patience described in the Bible.  I don’t like being patient and waiting, but I have learned through the years that being patient and waiting upon the Lord when things don’t go my way usually produces better results: the results God was looking for, not those I desired.  So, let me leave you with Romans 5, verses 2 through 5, that describe a patience empowered by the Holy Spirit to endure and grow from our sufferings; in God’s words the truth is that patience breeds hope:

Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (English Standard Version)
FisherDad happy to have Outlaw Escape
loaded into the Trout Truck.

May 31, 2014

So, what does a fishing photo shoot look like?

Ron, a retired principal from Santa Barbara, attempts to land
a 20+ inch rainbow.
WARNINGThis blog contains fish porn.

When I was in 
my late twenties I got the bug to write an article or story on fly fishing, so I did.  I had just read Nick Lyons’ book, The Seasonable Angler.  I could identify with Lyons’ conundrum of balancing family, work, and fly fishing (and of course, I added serving My Lord to that equation).  I never submitted the article to anyone, but it did light a smoldering fire.  I’m sure this blog has its roots in that early effort.

Approaching the Dave Deacon Campground from the north, 6:30 AM.
It took about thirty years for me to decide to write another article, this time for Southwest Fly Fishing after fishing Dacey Reservoir for the first time last September.  I submitted the unsolicited manuscript and the editor liked it, surely not because of its quality but because they had never covered Wayne Kirch Wildlife Management Area before and the trout were respectably large.  Their problem with my submission was my pictures; their composition might have been passable but their technical quality was not.  But, editor John Shewey liked it enough to suggest pairing me with a professional photographer to supplement the article with the high quality pictures the magazine is known for.  So, I spent the last two days of May fishing Kirch with Jeremy Allan (Jeremy Allan Photography) and his posse. 

Here is Jeremy shooting Brandon's big bow from Dacey Reservoir.
Here was my view of same trout.
And yet another view from FisherDad.
Colter and Ben getting in on Brandon's photo op after Jeremy got
what he needed for the article.
Shewey warned me this would feel like work.  I have a pretty vivid imagination and I knew getting the elements of light and composition just right was not easy to do, and while an amateur would take hundreds of pictures hoping “the one” falls into place, the professional would take thousands.  Throw in the “fish” element and you begin to realize that large fish don’t volunteer for the opportunity to appear in a magazine, let alone the front cover.  It appears timing and luck reign on a fishing periodical photo shoot.

Brandon and Colter getting the Flycraft Stealth boats ready for launch.
Note their narrow profile, and these boats weigh just 80 lbs.
Jeremy photographing Brandon rescuing a snagged fly using the
Flycraft paddle boat. After the photo Ben left poor Brandon there
to extract himself.
Jeremy caught me with a fish on. 
It's obvious that he's a professional photographer.
Getting a window in Jeremy’s schedule proved a little challenging, and when we settled on this weekend the weather forecast predicted wind.  I told Jeremy that tubing Kirch without oars, or perhaps even an electric motor, in winds 20 mph and higher would be near impossible.  He reached out to Ben Scribner, creator of the Flycraft USA Stealth boat for reinforcements.  Check out the video on their website… these are killer boats for the serious angler, or anyone else that enjoys nature from the perspective of water.  Jeremy also brought with him Brandon Collett, a northern Utah fly fishing guide, and Colter Day, an entrepreneur who is seeking his way into the angling industry by building some amazing graphite/fiberglass fly rods with wonderfully creative wrappings.  Although never stated, I’m sure Jeremy brought these young bucks with him because he had no way of knowing for sure that I could catch a fish, and even more importantly they had worked with him enough to know how to announce the timing of their casts, how to hold and angle the fish to catch the light just the way Jeremy needed.

Brandon snapping Colter with his first-ever largemouth bass - 
the popper got him. Several 16-inch bass were caught by our group.
The ubiquitous 16-inch Dacey rainbow
sporting their classic coloring.
The boys working it from the anchored Flycraft Stealths. 
They just killed it from there.
Imagination aside, I didn’t really know what to expect.  In the outdoors I tend to be a loaner.  I enjoy the solitude, and it allows me to fill my soul and recharge my batteries.  There’s not often peace when you are raising six children and work a day job that requires constant interaction with all sorts of personalities and egos.  Jeremy, Ben, Brandon, and Colter were absolutely great to hang around with, and the usual angler banter was quite amusing.  They were extremely professional and knowledgeable about all aspects of fly fishing.  Despite my penchant for outdoor solitude, I had a blast experiencing but a glimpse of the other side of anglers who also make their beloved hobby their profession.  Lots of single-minded dedication going on with these guys. For a different perspective check out Ben's video of our trip highlighting his Flycraft boats.  
My longest of the trip at 22 inches, but it probably weighed just 2.5 lbs
due to an injury or illness in his jaw that must have affected his health.
One of two Black Crappies I landed on our visit to Cold Springs
This was just one of the many 19-inch rainbows we caught.
A three to four foot Great Basin Gopher snake that got into my
Outlaw Escape. Colter had Jeremy shoot his rod that carries his
name with the snake's matching colors.
Speaking of those who like solitude, during this trip we ran into Ron, a retired school principal from Santa Barbara.  Ron has been coming to Kirch for eight years, turning the one-to-two-week adventure into a somewhat religious experience.  The most amazing thing about Ron is that he makes this solo journey at the age of 78.  I believe he knows Kirch better than I do.  We chatted for a while after he landed the largest trout I witnessed that day.   He provided a few tips on fishing the Adams McGill Reservoir which I’ll try my next time out.  He had a wonderful, cheery attitude about everything, and you could see how the love of teaching spilled over into his desire to share his fly fishing knowledge.  When I mentioned sighting a duck with a blue bill his face lit up.  He said it was a Ruddy Duck.  Ron said the male’s bill is blue only during mating season.  The Cornell Lab of Ornithology says that male Ruddy Ducks have blackish caps that contrast with bright white cheeks. In summer, they have rich chestnut bodies with bright blue bills. In winter, they are dull gray-brown above and paler below with dull gray bills.  Females and first-year males are brownish, somewhat like winter males but with a blurry stripe across the pale cheek patch.  Ron was as excited about the vast wildlife on Kirch as he was about his fishing.

A male Ruddy Duck with his signature baby-blue bill.

Ron said it’s the solitude coupled with the fishery’s quality draws him to leave Santa Barbara for Kirch every year.  Now there’s a testimony.

The November/December 2014 edition of Southwest Fly Fishing.
Jeremy's shot of Colter and Brandon made the cover!
The inside cover TOC... feature article on page 38.

April 23, 2014

Brotherly Love on Dacey Reservoir

My son Doug and brother Bruce, launching into Dacey Reservoir
(Grant Range in the background)
The Greeks have four words to describe love based on their observations on the subject. There is their word éros (ἔρως) to describe "physical" passionate love that carries a sensual desire and longing; a more self-centered “erotic” driving force. Then they have philia (φιλία) to describe a "mental" love, an affectionate regard or friendship that exhibits the give and take seen in families and friendship (the root of Philadelphia, city of brotherly love, originates from philia). Their word storge (στοργή) describes "affection" as in a parent's natural affection for its offspring. Most importantly, they have agápe (ἀγάπη) to describe a "spiritual" love, a true sense of unconditional love that is selfless; it gives and expects nothing in return. Agápe is the word used in the Bible's "love chapter," 1 Corinthians 13; it is a sacrificial and spiritual love. I believe all four words are used in the Bible, but perhaps a more scholarly Bible reader will post a correction to that assumption.  Anyway, the point is that in context each clarifies what God was saying in the Holy Scripture.

I’m sure you are asking why I’m on this bent today.  It’s because my older brother Bruce used his five-day vacation to visit me and my family, and his visit caused me to ponder my love for him.  Clearly I storge him as part of my nuclear family, and philia him as well.  I do not éros him, but I when I search my soul do I see my agápe for him?  That’s the crux of our relationship: do I love my brother unconditionally?  Or, is my relationship based solely on a give and take; do I give to him only through an expectation that he’ll give back in return… in an equal amount? This can be dangerous territory.

There is no question that Christ had agápe love for mankind; He was the living sacrifice for all us sinners with full knowledge that He created us with free will in order that we may choose to follow Him out of love… or not. God wants us to choose to become Christ-like by the power of the Holy Spirit, and therefore agápe others that He created in his likeness.  And it is no coincidence that God’s greatest commandment is to agápe God and agápe our fellow man (Mark 12:30-31).  Thank goodness that is possible through the power of the Spirit given some of these characters we find living amongst us, and you know of whom I mean.

So, when I think of my love for Bruce how did it manifest itself on this visit?  Did I allow him to stay in our home even though it inconvenienced our family? Did I share my food and drink with him? Did I use my vacation time to be with him, in his presence, accepting any behavior or habits that I might find awkward or even stressful?  Did I do any of these things with the expectation that he’d reciprocate? And, if he never reciprocates will I refuse a request for a return visit in the future?
Backwoods Bruce and FisherDad
By way of background, Bruce was almost ten years old when our dad died; I was just over three.  Our mom was pregnant with our sister June when dad succumbed to the effects of a misdiagnosed heart attack.  The dreadful event actually occurred on my sister’s due date (she was born eight days after), which was also our oldest brother Neal’s thirteenth birthday.  Bruce and I discussed the awful difficulties our mother endured, not to mention the impact on he and Neal being they were at that formative age when a dad becomes so instrumental in their development.  There’s much to that story, but the main event was our mother’s agápe love for her children.  Our family persevered despite our significant loss, moved out west to start a new life, all made possible by the sacrificial love our mother had for her children.  Oh, and our mom did this as a single mother, never remarrying, doing her level best to give up her dreams so that her children could achieve their own.  That is agápe.  In today’s society, a young mother is more likely to sacrifice her children’s needs and aspirations in order to pursue her own.

The last time Bruce and I got together was at our brother Neal’s funeral, ten years ago this coming November (our mom passed almost three years earlier).  We communicate via phone and email occasionally, but most of our conversations focus on our mutual affection for nature.  Our most recent conversations drift towards our health as we push into our retirement years.  Last fall Bruce proposed the idea of a visit to Las Vegas (he’s the resident naturalist of Ojai, California), partly to be with our family but also with the notion of a shared fishing trip.  He said my recent posts on Dacey Reservoir’s large rainbows stirred a strong desire to try float-tubing for the first time.  There is excellent fishing in the coastal mountains around Ojai, most significant being the Sespe, Sisquoc, and Casitas waters, but none ever presented the need to float tube on still waters.  Bruce was also intrigued with the notion of large trout in the middle of the Great Basin desert... who knew? And thus we hatched a four-day visit with two of them set aside for fishing Dacey.  
Bruce fighting a nineteen inch rainbow that was foraging along the boulders
The rainbow in the net
Bruce stayed with us, and arrived in time to celebrate Easter dinner.  Absent were Nick and Doug, but Doug was to join us on the fishing trip; Nick now lives in San Francisco. Tuesday Bruce and I visited the Corn Creek Ranger Station (gateway to the Desert National Wildlife Refuge) while Emily was in preschool, and afterwards we took her to the Las Vegas Springs Preserve.  Emily quickly took to Bruce, but it was likely because his odd sense of humor was familiar to her; I emulated his idiosyncratic mind when he served as my pre-teen surrogate father figure.
Plump thirteen inch rainbow that held over from the fall stocking program
(taken on a callebaetis nymph)
The unstable weather forecast for the Wayne Kirch Wildlife Management Area forced us to split fishing days between Monday and Wednesday as Tuesday’s wind reached 29 miles per hour.  We arose extra early on Monday to get on the water by 7:30 AM because the winds were scheduled to arrive by noon, effectively blowing us off the water. Conversely, we returned late Wednesday morning so that the early morning winds would have a chance to subside. Still, Wednesday’s breezes were enough to ground Bruce on the reservoir dam by mid-afternoon, which is where I was once again confronted with agápe love.
Largest trout of the trip: twenty-two inch hen fish dropping roe
I had contemplated offering Bruce the use of my NFO Outlaw Escape while I used one of my Fish Cat tubes.  I was praying for calm weather because such conditions would minimize any difference in effort between the two; but tubing on the Fish Cat without the advantage of an integrated oar system in winds approaching 10 miles per hour would cause fishermen our age to tire quickly (constant finning, or kick-paddling, is required just to maintain position let alone locomote to different locations).  Fortunately, Monday morning’s weather complied perfectly, and when the breeze finally kicked up it pushed us in the direction of the Trout Truck for the mid-day extraction before the high winds developed.  In fact, there were just four other tubers on the water that day, and they were in the wrong place as they needed to fight through the winds to return to their truck; Bruce and I were very thankful our strategy worked in our favor.
Bruce fighting an eighteen inch male from the Fish Cat
Golden spawning colors of the eighteen inch male rainbow
(at first sight Bruce thought it was a brown trout)
Close-up of the toothy hooked jaw; note the dislocated upper maxillary
(Bruce relocated it before release)
Wednesday was not as cooperative, but I failed to offer Bruce the Escape until he had already been beached on the dam.  My son Doug joined us on his day off, and when we launched I had the Escape and Bruce and Doug were on the Fish Cats.  Doug is young and strong, so he propelled all over the place without any sign of distress.  We had just two landing nets and one camera between us.  When Doug went off to the southwestern side of the reservoir I found myself rowing back and forth between Bruce and Doug to be sure we got memorable pictures documenting our success, and to use my 31-inch landing net (with a 18-inch hoop) to assist in landing the larger trout.  I justified keeping the Escape for my use to ferry our limited resources back and forth.  However, when I realized Bruce had beached his Fish Cat because the finning had consumed his leg strength I recognized my selfishness.  I offered to trade tubes with him, but by then it was too late; he didn’t have the energy to float anymore.
Doug cradling his first fish of the day
Fortunately, the large trout foraging near the rocky impoundment we experienced on Monday had returned by mid-afternoon allowing Bruce to land several on nymphs along the submerged rocks and boulders.  His success lessened my guilt, but I still felt that had I been less selfish, had I loved Bruce as I loved myself, I would have offered him the Escape even before the strong winds arrived.  It made me wonder if I agápe’d Bruce as God asks of me, or if I merely philia’d or storge’d him.  I know Bruce did not have any expectations and would likely say I did everything I could to make his visit awesome, but I still know better.
Bruce holding a magnificent nineteen inch rainbow
Twenty inch male fooled by a damsel fly nymph
FisherDad and a fine nineteen inch male
Regarding the fishing details, it was amazingly simple most of the time.  The trick was finding where the trout were.  Monday was warmer and the winds calmer, and we found all we could handle in the southeast corner of the reservoir.  Fly selection did not seem to matter much.  Not counting the numerous long-distance-releases (LDRs), in four hours I landed six, half of which were between seventeen to nineteen inches, whereas all five of Bruce’s were between seventeen to nineteen inches.

When Doug joined us on Wednesday the fishing got even better, although it took a while to heat up.  We all caught good fish, but as Pastor Maclean said to his sons in Robert Redford's movie, “…it’s just that The Lord had particularly blessed me.”  Of the eleven trout I landed, the top four were 22, 21, 20, and 19 inches.  All of Bruce’s were carbon copies from Monday.  Doug hooked into a rather large rainbow that he played for about ten minutes.  After hearing a level of stress in Doug's voice as he shouted out from afar, “This one is huge!”, I rowed as fast as I could to get to him.  Witnessing the trout near the surface I easily had it at 20 inches.  I attempted to scoop it into the landing net several times, but it was not ready.  Growing anxious, Doug tried to muscle it towards me whereupon the tippet blood knot gave out and we lost the trout without a picture.  I know Doug and I will always have our memory of that great fish and our failed attempt to land it despite the absence of photographic evidence (maybe it’ll grow to 23 inches as we retell the story to others over the years).  Doug, by the way, was the only one of us to land any largemouth bass, all three of which he connected with near the southwest part of the reservoir.
Another spawn-colored eighteen inch male rainbow
Fine looking eighteen inch rainbow landed by Bruce
Yet another large male that came to our nets
While the fishing was awesome and extremely gratifying, more than we expected or even deserved, it was the time spent together that was most important.  Reliving some of our childhood memories, discussing our family and friends, agreeing that The Lord had blessed our lives more than we deserved, that was what the visit was all about.  The fishing was just a means to an end, but it was a mighty fine means. And yes, I do believe I love Bruce unconditionally despite our differences.
FisherDad, Bruce, and Doug celebrating a very blessed day of fishing