"What's the score?", the older gentleman in the dusty-shoulder-of the road spot in front of me asked as his pipe smoke loomed in the breeze. A "harumph" from him as I tell him of the Yankees woes.
"Any luck?", I ask. I am unsure if he is coming or going.
"Nah, just came to check it out. You nymphing?"
"Yeah.", I reply.
"Well, that's good. Look at them all," he says as three guys stride down the road. "spin fisherman."
I am quiet about it as I don't want to get into any theological debate. "You're not fishing at all?", I politely but hurriedly ask. I am half interested and thinking more about the daylight burning.
As it turns out, he is a dry fly fisherman. It is the first of April and there will be no rising trout. Not that it matters. He is mostly incapable of wading these days. He's just come to watch. Check in. A veteran, or rather, an elder statesman of these waters. We agree, and I mean it, that he looks great for 77. He is Andy and when all is said and done I remember that this is what it is all about. I remind myself to slow down and chat, stream side, before a fly hits the water.
"My wife gave me the afternoon.", I say.
"Mine too.", he replies. "Just drove all the way up from my daughter's house in south Jersey. We got home, I told my wife I'm going out. She says 'You're going to the stream, aren't you?' I tell her 'yeah.' She says, 'That's fine. Then I'm going out.' Hahaha."
It's a quick story but I can appreciate it. I smile inside because here is Andy, just about forty years my senior, and he loves this place. He loves it for reasons beyond catching trout. He loves it for reasons that I love it, for reasons I can't put into words. He's having the same awkward conversations with his wife about "fishing time" as I have with mine, forty years later in life, and he is not even wetting a line.
With this in mind I slow down. I take my time and really "look" at this water. This is a stretch I've never seen before. Does it hold trout? Where does it hold them today? Will it look the same when I am 77? Will I still be able to wade the rivers and fish the streams? How fast will the years go?
Slow down, Mike, slow down.
I did catch a few small trout. One smaller than the next. Small victories that the Yankees didn't find today.
I also found that only two of the three patched leaks seemed to hold. You win some, you lose some I guess.
There was, of course, one shining victory. And I found it in a conversation with an old fisherman...on Opening Day.
Happy "Opening Day", Andy. And many more. Hope to meet again.