It’s March Madness and my brackets got pulverized. Soccer season is over and the school year’s winding down. It’s now I get itchy. It’s now I start to turn over like a lake, swimming the fine line of clarity and grit, and there’s only so much left to do: prep my annual Trouthunter baseball draft in hopes of regaining the title, and, more mentally pressing, start organizing gear for summer, start stocking bugs, start grazing over the fine crooked lines of maps for the migration…
Flights of ducks and geese flee the Texas heat daily
for cooler breeding grounds;
fly boxes void
of PMDs and Flavs and size 14 Rusty Spinners.
showed up last week from Mexico
flitting over fresh cactus blooms;
trout lines kinked like a last winter’s garden hose.
Herbs and peppers and tomatoes on the up and up,
but my reels are caked
with remnant weeds from the Wood Road.
While the boys in IP wade the thaw and gear up for mud-season, it’s 86 here today, muggy and mosquitoes, beer not staying cold long, no real rain for months. I know the baetis and midges are popping and have been all winter. I know the gang is emerging from their winter slumber like dancing clouds of March Browns. A month ago I chased reds and specs on a flat of oyster shell all afternoon and didn’t give a thought one to the coming summer -- until now.
We’re all chasing something: warm days, cools nights; midge clusters and tides; cheap plane tickets south and far-off fishing reports; a woman, a job, retirement, a barred minor chord, miles on a map, or another minute with grandpa. But are we chasing familiarity, chasing the unknown, or chasing ourselves in search of both sides? Is there a difference? Hell, I’m chasing days on a never-ending calendar.
I wish I was I was there now about as much as they wish they were here a month ago. For me, early April is always a time of juxtaposition and of grass-is-always-greener kind of shit, a different season depending on your latitude. I don’t miss my snow shovel, but I miss the mountain rebirth on the caldera. This is my other side, my other what-makes-me-tick. But we make choices. It’s just matter of what guides you, the heart or the head and what you can live with. I have a mistress and my girl don’t dig it.
Now, I too want to light out for the north.
John Cambell has spent 17 summers fishing the Henry's Fork. During the warm months, he shares his expertise at the TroutHunter fly shop. The rest of his year is spent teaching English and coaching Soccer at Westlake High School in Austin, TX.