As I write this, I hear the rain pounding outside. It eats away at a thin layer of slush that I thought might be the start of winter. I considered going fishing, but elected to stay home, write, and tie flies, "Better to be prepared for next season" I reason. November always presents herself before I am ready, still giddy from recent October fishing trips. Like the last kiss of a relationship, you usually don't know the "last day" when you are fishing it. But on a day like today I'm forced to think back to a few weeks prior, and realize, " I may not pick up the rod again until spring." It is a bittersweet thought, the memories of the season flash through my mind like a movie montage that I will need to wait to see again.
I am forced to think about my last day of fishing, a few weeks ago. The Andro had been fishing well despite a cold snap. I felt I'd finally cracked the code of catching rainbows late season. I called my friend Greg a few days prior. "Hey man, There are still a few Rainbows running around in the Andro. I'd like to get in one more drift of the season if you are up for it." Is what I said on his answering machine.
I didn't really expect a response, but I should have. Greg is the type of fisherman that doesn't go fishing to catch fish. So although the forecast put highs at 42 degrees with a stiff breeze, Greg and I loaded up the trucks and hitched the trailer.
We eased into the waters of the Andro at ten am. We reasoned that the late start would put us on the water when the day had warmed, it did not. I started in the rowers seat and let Greg cast streamers to the banks. While I wanted Greg to catch fish I was more interested in working on my rowing techniques. I played the oars, easing the boat along, at a pace slower than the current. As we came to series of islands I pulled ashore so we could fish the riffled water on foot.
We debated about our strategy. I suggested that one of us fish nymphs and the other streamers. Greg was already using a streamer, but seemed suspicious of my double nymph rig. When I came tight to a rainbow on my third cast I wasn't surprised to see him reach for his nippers.
We fished the island for longer than we probably should have, but there is never really enough time to fish in late Autumn. Eventually we made it back to the boat and I elected to row again. Greg switched back to the streamer so that we could cover water.
As we slid along we told stories about our season and shared a mutual dread of the winter to come. As two fishing guides in Northern New Hampshire, our fears and joys were much the same. And although we were not catching fish we both took satisfaction in the fact that we were both fishing.
Eventually we came to a familiar seam that I could not resist planting an anchor on. As soon as we stopped Greg switched back to the nymph and on his second cast his rod came to life. I helped him land a ten inch wild rainbow and quickly got my own flies in the water. It wasn't long before I had a fish on and Greg had another. We caught and lost fish for another half hour, laughing at the absurdity of our success. When the fishing finally did slow, we took a break, sipping beer and eating cheese in anticipation of more good water to come.
The next seam didn't produce any fish, so we continued on, looking for something that might more closely resemble our hot spot. But the sun was already golden against the mountains, and we both knew that our luck had probably come and gone. We fished a few more likely seams and debated about what made that one spot so special. We decided that it was this confusion that we both liked. The fact that it seemed we knew all the keys to catching fish one moment, but none the next.
As the sun began to bury itself behind the mountains a numbing breeze blew through us. Greg mentioned that we might die if we fell in the water, so we decided to pick up the pace. We got to the take out as darkness settled in. As we packed up we talked about future fishing trips. Maybe in the spring we would head to Montana for a week, or maybe we would find some time to fish in Maine before our seasons really got cranking. We even thought about taking the boat out again, before ice in.
In reality it might be another year until we fished together again.