The other day I was standing in the stream when, under normal weather conditions, I would have been home napping in front of the fireplace.
There was no reason for the day to be that warm. It was the beginning of winter, and it should have been cold and snowy. But it wasn’t. Instead, it was 55 degrees and not a cloud in the sky.
So there I was, $4 into an $8 cigar, casting dry flies to 12- and 14-inch rainbows, and I began to reflect on my fly-fishing year in 2013.
My memory, even though I turned 65 this year, seemed to be sharper than a brand-new hook. I recalled with great clarity and truthfulness, the places I had fished and the fish I had caught. I was truly amazed that the sizes and numbers of fish I had caught did not increase.
My travels for fly-fishing in 2013 took me to North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Florida, New Mexico, Colorado and the Bahamas. Fly-fishing in these various locations allowed me to catch everything from a 7-pound bonefish to carp, smallmouth bass (one of which was 2½ pounds), trout, redfish and panfish. On these trips I made new friends, renewed old friendships and managed to irritate only a couple of folks. Hopefully, I won’t irritate anyone in 2014.
Last Christmas, I decided to ask for fly-fishing stuff and did, in fact, receive some really great gifts. And I have truly enjoyed them as I fly-fished, especially the boat. So, now that 2014 is almost here, asking for more toys seems pretty senseless. Even though I don’t have enough fly-fishing toys to make me the winner when I die, I’m close.
With that in mind, I have hit on what I want for 2014, and I hope you might in some way follow suit:
I had friends and relatives die suddenly and unexpectedly in 2013. I want to make time to reach out to friends and relatives and ask them to fly-fish with me for a day. Not some grand, planned event, but a spur-of-the-moment phone call to head out to a stream.
I want to see fly-fishing reach out to our men and women in uniform who have taken physical and mental beatings. Let’s not forget their families, they could use some of the healing effects of a boat ride.
Next, how about the men and women suffering from a seemingly endless array of horrendous diseases. There are any number of programs to help them. I want to know about them and use my toys in their programs.
And how about youngsters having problems. Just standing at the edge of a pond and showing a child how to cast my brand-new fly rod has to help (most likely both of us).
So for 2014, I want to be able to use my fly-fishing toys to help provide a great year for others. And I want someone to remind me, from time to time, it won’t happen by itself. I realize I have used the word “I” more times in this column than any editor should tolerate. However, only I can speak of what I would like to have for 2014. Please give some thought, and actions, as to how you can use fly-fishing to make a difference for others in 2014.
So as I end the last column for 2013, I want to close with my traditional year-end salutation: I wish everyone Feliz Navidad, Happy Hanukkah, a good Eid al-Adha and, of course, Merry Christmas. If none of these fits your beliefs, then whatever touches your heart with hope be with you all of 2014.
Reach Don Oliver at firstname.lastname@example.org.