Fishing the Duchesne

Death has a habit of making saints out of his patrons, but he hasn’t dulled the memories I have of fishing with my dad. He knew of some isolated spots along the Truckee River, accessible only on PG&E easement land to which he somehow had access. I’ll spare the details to preserve his holiness, save to say fishing was an activity for him best done solo.

I had a chance to photograph him later, much later, fatherhood in tow for me, and it was through my SLR that I began to get it. He loved fishing. It was one of the few times I witnessed his face relax and watched him breathe in his atmosphere, this one at the stocked lake in Pine Valley, Utah.

To perpetuate this connection, though lost on me (figured it could skip a generation), I introduced my son to the “sport” by taking him back to the same spot in Pine Valley, where I baited his hook, helped him with his cast where in seconds he hooked a small trout, ruining fishing for him forever. Making it worse, we released the trout, baited and cast again, and he caught the same damn fish.

Enter time, COVID-19 and my Mantle Cell Lymphoma diagnosis. What could I possibly do that wasn’t a risk to myself, get me away from the infecting mass, and connect with nature? Fishing. And I’m lucky enough to live just an hour or so away from two or three of the world’s best fly fishing rivers and confluences, so I decided to revisit the ol’ man’s passion and take up a new hobby.

I don’t have any ambition or intention to actually catch a fish, though it would be nice to add that to my survival skill set. I’ve found immense satisfaction in just standing in a river, reading its flow and eddies and placing a fly in the general vicinity of where there might be a trout. I have my dad’s old fly reel and rod, but they were both too brittle and sprung from decades of storage, so I sprung for new gear of my own.

Something was still missing, though, a connection, a companion, so I invited my son to join me on the Duchesne.

The looped closed, more positively this time. We practiced tying on leads, casting and placement, reading the water, and in her effort to show the sport for what it truly is, Mother Nature made sure we caught nothing.

But, that didn’t matter.


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