As I look back on 2011, I realize why I didn't make any fly fishing resolutions at this time last year. Privately, I had some pretty lofty ambitions, most of which remain unrealized. Like most fishermen, I lament the fact that I fished far less than originally planned, and certainly far, far less than I wanted. I never did get around to learning much about fishing streamers, nor did I experiment at all with tying any. I missed every single trico hatch on the North Platte. Constant crowds on the Big Thompson kept me fleeing back to the Poudre, a fact that I'm sure doesn't bother anglers from Loveland or Estes Park. Regrettably, work and some personal obligations kept me from diving headfirst into the Rocky Mountain Frenzy, which sounded like too much fun to have missed.
Far and away, my biggest regret is another summer come and gone without a trip to my childhood paradise, the White River valley at the foot of the Flattops wilderness It's where I learned my craft. It's where I hooked my grandfather in the ear on a back cast, just hours before a skunk strolled through his legs without so much as thinking about unleashing it's natural brand of chemical warfare upon any of us. It's where Doc planted a fly fishing seed in my heart, many years before I ever set foot in the Poudre. It's where, at the ripe old age of 13, I hooked, played, and lost what I still believe to be the biggest trout I've ever tied into. And it's where Doc learned that a good cowboy hat is good for a lot of things, but netting a monster trout for your son is not one of them.
New Year's Eve isn't about regrets, however. 2011 had plenty of highlights:
3) Battle Poudre '11. It was a nail biter, but on balance I'm going to have to swallow my pride and declare Doc the overall winner. I'm basing this conclusion on an afternoon in April when Doc tied into two monsters. I don't suppose anybody wants to hear about the pig that I stuck that took the bug and proceeded to sprint for the nearest underwater bush, wrap my line around it, and snap the tippet? I didn't think so. The battle goes to Doc. This friendly competition, dating back to 2009, really exists solely on the pages of The Flywriter. We don't keep score, and nobody cares who the victor is. Still, I have to offer a picture of yours truly with a nice brown just to be fair and balanced...to myself!
|Jae's Pretty Brown|
|The Flywriter's Rainbow|
Hopper Juan's tutorial, I'm much improved. I'm also happy to report that they're catching trout on the Poudre.
As much as I didn't accomplish as an angler, I look back at 2011 through the lenses of gratitude. Grateful that I have a loving, personal God who walks every step with me. Grateful to have a family that could have justifiably written me off when I wasn't anywhere near my best, but simply refused to. Grateful to have a job when others don't. Grateful to have nephews who still look at the world with wonder, optimism, and joy. And yes, grateful to have a hobby - nay, an obsession - that I share with so many others out there.
I'll finish in a way that I know all fly fishermen will appreciate. An unexpected afternoon away from work coupled with some mild temperatures afforded me one last opportunity to create a final 2011 memory. By the skin of my teeth, I managed to net one last trout in 2011, approximately 36 hours before the ball dropped in Times Square. I can't think of a better way to close out the year.
That's the year in review from Flywriter HQ. May God bless and keep you in 2012.
Happy New Year...