Sunday, July 13, 2014

Perfect Days and Religion

Day after day, I've come in and said to Julie, "It was just a perfect day in every way." That usually means plenty of opportunities, clients who appreciate them, plenty of caught fish, and a certain intangible quality of sacredness that deepens bonds between anglers. Last week, I guided Shaun Daniels again, and two different companions on separate days. On the first day, Shaun invited his buddy Mickey, who has a place in Port Isabel, and who has fished the Laguna Madre all his life, mostly as a spin fisherman. The forecast called for rain, and for once they were right, unfortunately. We spent most of the day running from two big storms, but never gave up. At one point, the guys were on the sand in the middle of rain without raincoats sight casting as best they could to barely discernible wakes in 15 mph wind. Dripping with rain, they kept going without complaint. I recalled guiding two Israeli brothers several years ago who were casting and laughing in the rain without gear. I said to them,  "You are such troopers!" to which they said, "Yes, we are--paratroopers!"

By mid-afternoon, we had the bay to ourselves, since most of the boats had "wisely" fled the storms. Mickey and Shaun weren't paratroopers, but they were Texas anglers accustomed to dodging storms and sticking with the program. (By the way, if you haven't read Racing in the Rain, you should do so. A great read, and relevant to the topic at hand.) Such persistence is usually rewarded, sooner or later, and we were fortunate that the reward came sooner. After running around and using most of my gas up, I pulled into a "final stop" and committed to one final pole as the sun leaned heavily against the western shoreline, beckoning us homeward. Suddenly, after a day of east wind, north wind and west wind, there was a hush and the wind stopped entirely. Like a dream, the water turned to glass, and hundreds of redfish, and several big trout began tailing happily.  The guys opted to wade, and for the next hour and half they casted to big tails, and managed to land several nice reds. I called Shaun's attention to a school of reds that had appeared nearby, so he hiked over and intercepted 50+ tailing reds, and landed a nice 26+ inch fish. It was a well-deserved ending to an otherwise challenging weather day.

Shaun invited Tracey Dean the following day. Tracey also has a place in Port Isabel, even though he lives in Wimberley, as well. Tracey and Shaun are part of a network of flyfishers who fish together all over the world, and often use me as a guide when they do their weeklong Laguna Madre trip each summer. So I'd guided Tracey and his friends before. Our first stop of the morning was a no-brainer: we returned to the place where Shaun and Mickey had done so well the evening before. And the fish were there in small tailing pods and tailing singles.
 After catching a couple there, we tried other westside locales fruitlessly before heading to the sand, where we spent the rest of the day. Shaun got into a groove there, and caught several wading while I poled Tracey on the boat. The fish were tough from the boat, though, seeing us at 80 feet out. So, eventually, I picked Shaun up and headed to a new spot where we all waded in crystal clear water under a cloudless afternoon sky. The water looked like a shimmering, expansive piece of topaz. Once we spread out and committed to a wade, the reds started appearing with regularity, tracking upwind and head down, making it relatively easy to get close enough for a presentation. I didn't realize it, but Tracey had never caught a redfish while wading, and he managed to land six nice reds before we headed in. Shaun did well, as well. As we headed in, I believe we all felt that "certain intangible" that forms the heart of religion and enduring friendships. Sometimes we forget that religion means "reconnection." If you look at it that way, we all need it.

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