For about two decades I’ve been very fortunate to be a part of a Christian Men’s Group. My experience has been that men need the fellowship and counsel of other men, men who can hold us accountable to keep our promises to our God, wives, children, neighbors and work associates. Men tend to use the Lone Ranger approach when dealing with hurts, wounds, and sins. We don’t exhibit emotions like our female counterparts, and we believe it’s less manly to seek the help of other like-minded men. Instead we prefer to work it out by ourselves. As if we could abstain from looking at our situation objectively without the bias of our own selfishness and pride. That’s why the Bible tells us to seek the council of other followers in 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15.
The commonality of our lives has resembled a divine weave. We all experience trials and tribulations throughout our lives. For the men in our group, no matter what troubles one of us might be experiencing at home or work, there is always one or two of us who have been there before and have made it to the other side with our faith, character, and promises intact. It’s the fire of suffering and adversity that burns off the impurities in our heart, and having other men around who’ve been through it is the blessing of fellowship.
One member, David Laman, has been there with me from the beginning. David would admit we are alike in many ways. The one we jointly attempt to manage in Men’s Group is our propensity to talk too much. While we believe we have important insight to share from our Christian journeys, some in our group might think we just like to hear ourselves talk. Other shared interests are fishing and simply being outdoors with nature.
For the last twenty or so years of David’s career he ran a division for the Lake Las Vegas owners that was responsible for operations and maintenance of the common shared facilities, not the least of which was the lake itself and the systems that control the flow of water into and beneath the lake, a function whose importance becomes singularly urgent when Mother Nature drops an inch of rain over the Spring Mountains and the Las Vegas Valley and it all rushes into the Las Vegas Wash on its way to Lake Mead. I remember many meetings over the years when David had to take calls or even leave the meeting to attend to the task of ensuring the system operated properly to prevent flooding and other damage.
There were several years that Lake Las Vegas was known for its bass fishing. David had politely offered to take me out sometime, but we never connected. On appropriate occasions I would use that unfulfilled offer to make David feel bad, as men are prone to do with a proper infusion of sarcasm (sarcasm, another thing David and I share). Recently David retired, and his new found availability prompted him to offer that he would let me take him fishing (do you see the irony here?).
In reality David knew I usually fished alone; that I had a tendency to be immersed in my fishing and therefor not always good company on the water. He also knew that since my heart attack last October, my wife was none pleased about my solo fishing adventures. His offer was a way of getting me out without causing her to worry about me.
The other truth was that David and his awesome wife were getting ready for a three-month vacation. Most of their trip would occur in Colorado where their two children and all their grandchildren live. David was hoping to do some fly fishing while there, and he was hoping I could give him some counsel on the subject of fly fishing for trout.
We decided on the Wayne Kirch Wildlife Management Area because the fishing was expected to be good and the temperature moderate. The three hour drive up and back afforded much time for talk (remember, we both have the “gift of gab”) which was very enjoyable and made the 350 mile round trip seemed too short for me.
We departed from my house at 4:00 AM, and were floating on the Dacey Reservoir by 8:00 AM. There was another solo angler who arrived at 9:00 AM, and a pair of anglers showed up an hour or two later. Although Dacey is the smallest of the four fishable reservoirs in Kirch, at 185 surface acres there was plenty of water to share among five anglers.
I set up David with my 9-foot, 5-weight Sage rod and my Galvin reel. I chose my 9-foot, 7-weight which I hadn’t fished for many years. I had forgotten how well it throws out heavier flies. The Pflueger Triton reel spooled with the 7-weight line was heavier than I like. I’ve always intended to purchase an additional Galvin spool for a 7-weight full sink line, but that wouldn’t have helped this day as I wanted David to use the Galvin.
The boat launch was relatively clear of decaying vegetation, and a few trout were still pooling at the opening while attempting to spawn. The weed growth was still low, but it took an hour to locate the trout (or maybe the warming water by mid-morning activated them). We began to connect with the rainbows around 9:00 AM, and for three hours we did pretty good, although neither of us caught anything over 16 inches. For the morning we landed ten fish and suffered six or seven long-distance releases. About sixteen hookups over four and one-half hours.
David had a couple of observations about me that I knew to be true. The first was that as a casting instructor I left much to be desired. I cast a decent fly, but my style is filled with imperfections from being self-taught and years of bad habits. I kept making suggestions to David based on my observations of his casting technique, but he didn’t observe that I was employing what I was suggesting. The truth of the matter is that casting a fly line is ruled by the physics of nature, and as long as you learn to (a) time your casting strokes and their related power acceleration based on the rod loading, and to (b) keep the rod tip on a tighter line-of-sight throughout the cast to effect a tighter loop, you’ll do just fine. All the other gyrations of your body, arm, and wrist can vary highly but still produce acceptable results. His other observation was that I talk out loud to myself while fishing. This might have disturbed him as he mentioned to me that when he’s outdoors he enjoys the quiet solitude, and that was likely a hint that my talking upset his peace. I am aware that I express my thoughts orally while fishing… I really don’t know why. Even if Dave were to say my “self-talking” didn’t bother him, I would be disappointed if he failed to find the perfect opportunity to weave my propensity to chatter while fishing into a sarcastic comment during men’s group.
We did note the solo angler caught a rather large rainbow, perhaps four-plus pounds. Unbeknownst to me, the other angler lifted the brute by the tail just as I snapped a picture of David with his first catch of the day. Even on days when Dacey under-performs to my expectations, it’s always reassuring to see other anglers land trophy trout.
Despite our truck-cabin conversations, our drive up and back had a couple of eventful wildlife encounters. There was a roadrunner that dashed from the east side of Highway 318 right into the Ford F-150 that was travelling at 75 m.p.h., at least I thought he did. But when I looked back from the passenger side mirror there was no evidence he was ever there; I could only conclude he did the “Wile E. Coyote” 180 degree maneuver before anything happened. Then there were the two pronghorn antelope we noticed less than 100 yards away that were traversing the northeast slope of Gap Mountain. This was the farthest south I had ever seen pronghorns. Finally, traveling home we almost collided with two red tailed hawks that were obviously engaged in some aerial maneuvering of their own. One pulled up from the left side of the Ford, and as our eyes fixated on him the other that was flying low to the ground suddenly averted striking the right front of the truck. In order to miss hitting us (I would say he came within 10 to 15 feet, which is frighteningly close when traveling 75 m.p.h.) he extended his full wings while banking sharply up and to the right of the truck. I can only say that The Lord blessed us with His display of wildlife on this trip.
Regardless of the fishing and wildlife sightings, I really enjoyed David’s company. I always look forward to seeing him every two weeks in Men’s Group, and spending a day on the water and in the cab of his truck was just as I expected: a blessed day filled with fishing, fellowship, and fun. Most importantly, as stated by Jesus in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there I am with them.” I know David and I felt His presence this day.