Sound Track

I don’t know when or where I noticed it first but now that I’m aware of it, it’s everywhere. It’s not constant but it is consistent while on my path. I’m talking about music in my head. It may be something I’ve just been listening to on the way to the river or it’s something lodged in my subconscious awhile back. Funny side note here... during my work week I spend a fair amount of time in my truck and only listen to classical music (it’s just a preference) but at my job sites, it's the local rock & roll station. It’s just an “is” without any particular reason. I had XM radio for a bit and thought it was cool to be out of cell and radio service but still hear some trashy glam rock from the 80’s that I remember vividly. But that was short lived and became an annoyance since I prefer the windows down to smell the environment like the grasses, trees and the soil especially during a rain. After I’ve parked, rigged up, and I'm walking a trail to fish, comes Ozzy Osborne “I’m going off the rails on a crazy train” and Randy Roads screaming riff right behind it. Or even better, "like a rainbow in the dark” by Dio. I’m sure the local radio station has made an effort to pound this into my head at least 4 times a week but, still here it is. I was walking through a meadow without a designated trail except for what the game and range cattle had made. I had one eye on my starter pool up ahead and one eye on the path. The cool high altitude breeze was out of the northwest and it was a blue bird day... zero clouds. The meadow hadn’t been mowed down by the cattle yet so the wild flowers and grass were about shin-height. Occasional hoppers were bouncing off my legs and wizzing past my ears. Two hawks were on patrol riding the thermal, maybe mates? I let my mind wander nearing the river and felt the loving warmth of the morning sun. I could have died in my sleep last night and this could be my first day in heaven, my heaven. If my mind was a fly reel, all the line is out and I’m down to the backing. Present and joyous I thought, till David Lee Roth’s voice came in singing one of Van Halen’s many hits and I heard it all the way through to the chorus. I laughed and sang the second verse and chorus out loud.

When out, I make it a point to leave the “other life baggage” behind or at least in the truck.

Fishing within cell service is convenient for my family and I but all the rest of the robo calls and garbage emails just piss me off. I find its irrelevant interruption rains on my parade or pisses in my pool. So I try hard to escape but music, especially latter 20th century pop/rock music, creeps in. I was about an hour in on a trailhead, which is the marker to split from the trail, and head down hill to bush wack into a nice little stream covered by willow. Years past, I found this stream not by seeing water but spotting the willow winding through the lowest point of this valley. My curiosity led me here where, once in the stream, you stay in the stream. There are no banks to walk, just the occasional gravel bars. Between the hike in, the isolation of the stream and being roughly around the 10,000 ft. mark in altitude, this stream is my definition of remote. On the trail out there, there are plenty of signs of bears and their choice of midsummer food sources. With a wet winter, the abundance of food up here is plenty to keep the bear from wandering down to man and his trash, so I pack accordingly. These fish are wild and always on high alert... wary about “death from above” due to the many hawks and what ever other 4 legged critters that vie for the taste of mountain trout flesh. It’s a high stakes game with only one shot while most of my presentations have been on my knees and I’ve lost a number of flies to the willows. I’ve blown many good holding spots to these fish but when I do lay the fly down just right and it’s of interest to my prey, the payoff is huge. The fish may be pan size or smaller but their fight is greater than any lunker I’ve ever played on the San Juan.

The stream usually takes a full day if I cover every possible inch of water.

As the sun disappears behind the ridge to the west, the air changes to a cool caress across my face which is my reminder to head back. With the incoming of the dusk, the spruce release their scent and I’m enticed to stay and be a part of this transformation. The birds are calling to roost and the loss of light is a soon to be reality. I’m back on the trail out and I’ve double checked all my zippered gear to prepare for my silent walk back hopefully unnoticed by any larger carnivore. I hope not to interrupt any other animal activity that could hinder my epic day. My headlamp is on and as dim as possible, just enough to see without busting my ass and giving away my location. I can hear my boots crush random pebbles and I can hear my breath and my heart. I can hear the wisp of the grasses across my legs and then I can hear the distinctive tone of Rob Halford of Judas Priest singing the chorus; “breakin the law.... breakin the law!”


Photo Credit: Fin Costello/Redferns

So....fish on.


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