Herons as Fisherman

Last week was a stretch. Boss splits on some junket and leaves a pile of paper work on your desk, you find out Tuesday your bank account is overdrawn and bleeding fees faster than the Cash For Clunkers program, your wife won’t talk to you, the front yard looks like a pasture, 100+-degree afternoons for weeks, and the beer-to-food ratio in the fridge is being won by, you guessed it, beer.

The thing that will put everything into perspective is a few hours tossing flies to some willing trout—the peace and solitude that comes with light upstream breezes and the purr of riffles.

I fish alone, at least most of the time. I’ve gotten tired of the “Hey man, I didn’t think you were serious about today” story at 6 a.m. So when the early morning, coastal fog lifted to cobalt skies, I was presented with a bounty of rainbows and cutties, and what they lacked in size, they more than made up for with aerial displays of pool-jumping prowess. Not your run of the reel stockers, but fish of the steal-mom’s-car-sneak-a-smoke-behind-school-and-get-a-tat-on-your-ass variety.

At some point, I saw the Heron, standing alone on a stained boulder, quietly picking off smolts. I watched his tactics, the way he chose his prey and applied his craft. And in us I saw two separate species behaving in similar fashion: reading water, quarry on the brain, standing alone. As I moved downstream, he looked at me out of the corner of his eye as if to say, “We can share this bounty, but don’t look over my shoulder, and I won’t look over yours.”


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