It was never meant to be an angling trip. I had been kicking the idea around for a few months with a girlfriend from my past. Come down South, stay at her place, hook up with the old Canyon Crew, catch some waves, drink cervezas and mescal, boil shrimp…. It sounded like fun, and was a few dozen years overdue. The two-day downhill drive was highlighted by Big Sur and the Ventana—quietly spectacular, giving itself slowly, evenly. Those hours a man allows himself to open-up and toast the shear scope and beauty the Sur offers each day gives pleasure to the mind and soul. I sat on a point near Lopez that jutted into the Ocean and watched the sun retreat, letting go colors to the sky. A skinny, paranoid coyote worked the scrub coastal sage for voles and rabbits, continually glancing over its shoulder.
So Cal cities by comparison are nothing more than un-checked growth, their legacy back-to-back car dealerships, drained kidney-shaped pools with scratched coping, pastel houses with broken window screens. At the point, a NW swell with molten sterling faces in the six-foot range wrapped its pumped-up tension through the kelp beds for three days before subsiding. Shifting sections were laid to waste, old friendships re-kindled, and new ones forged over beer and tales of woe and triumph. The surfer lifestyle will forever be a hierarchy ruled not by Porsche and pocketbook, but by style and endurance. Watermen and women, gliding with plastic spoons on a liquid stage.
Even though angling wasn’t the primary cause, all travel in and around water, at least for me, brings it to the forefront. So between sessions, when the crew went about their business, I was off scoping bays, causeways, reefs, and anything else that might hold a prize—a reason to return with a 9-weight instead of a nose rider. The day before I left my friend Mike presented me with a box full of feathers. “You might get some use out of these,” he told me. The flies were less a gift, and more like the ocean herself saying with a wink, “Next time, if your good, I’ll let you inside.”
The 70-degree and sunshine ride back turned to 30-degrees in the Siskiyous with a few near whiteouts. On Saturday morning I found myself with a cup of java, jacket, gloves, standing on the Umpqua with an 8-weight. I’ve questioned some parts of my life, but never flyfishing. Everyone needs a thread that holds together the fabric of life—casting bugs continues to be mine.