Hurry Up & Wait ~ A. Behrend
Hurry up and wait
8 a.m...Late June...Northern Michigan. The anticipation sets in early. I won't be heading to the river for about 12 hours, but my mind is already consumed with what is to come. I sip my morning coffee sitting at my vice tying more spinners for an already full box. Not tying out of necessity but more so that the minutes don't feel like hours. My dog is lying on the couch watching me tie with sullen eyes. I sense that even he knows what this time of year means; he knows that I will be absent for many of the nights to come. The morning edition of Sportscenter is on the TV in the background; normally something I enjoy watching in the mornings. Not this morning, it just will not suffice. I thumb through my collection of fish porn and pop in a DVD, it only seems right. Back to the vice and coffee.
Noon...NOON?! It's only noon? I've been tying on and off all morning. Taking breaks to tidy up the house here and there, putting things away that haven't been in their proper place for months. Anything to keep myself busy. And here we are...noon. I need to get out of the house. In an effort to keep the peace between him and me, I grab the mutt and hop in the truck to take him out for a drive and a walk. We drive down 31 along Little Traverse Bay. The big water is dead calm, the thermometer is already showing 80 degrees, and it's humid as hell. A gorgeous Northern Michigan afternoon, but all I can do is fantasize about the night to come, and how perfect the conditions are lining up. I park just outside of town and walk with my dog along the lakeshore, constantly going over my game plan for the night in my head.
2pm...I feel like I've been out of the house for half the day and its only been two hours. I feel high strung, the anticipation and anxiety are getting to me. I wander from the lakeshore into town. What better to calm my nerves than an ice cold beer on a hot summer day. It's 5 o'clock somewhere right? One beer turns into two, as it most often does, and I relax a bit. For a short while I can finally enjoy the beautiful afternoon and not be completely engrossed with what will be happening later tonight.
4pm...How the hell is it only 4? Has time slowed down? I sincerely think it has. Now back at home, the anticipation is growing even more. Only a few more hours to kill. I grab a plethora of disorganized fly boxes, open them, and dump their contents onto the kitchen table. I meticulously organize all of the boxes, knowing full well that they will be back to the same disheveled state in a matter of days. After finishing with the boxes I go through the rest of my gear making sure not to leave something behind that would ruin my highly anticipated night. With all of my gear accounted for, I decide to wash my truck. For what reason? Who knows? I'll be tearing down dirt roads and two tracks later this evening, but I guess it's something to do.
6pm...Seriously? 6 o'clock?....I guess it's getting closer. I don't feel the least bit hungry, but I guess I should probably eat something. After much internal debate about what I should make, I take the easy way out and reheat some day-old pizza. I woof down half of a large pizza, tossing the crusts to my dog as I feel guilty I won't be bringing him along tonight. I guess I was hungrier than I thought, but come to think of it I really hadn't eaten much or even thought about eating for most of the day. It's amazing what a mayfly can do to your physical well-being.
7pm...ITS TIME! FINALLY! It's finally time to do one last check of all my gear and head to the river. I frantically fumble through all of my stuff, making sure that everything is there. I've been awake since 8am. I've had ALL day to prepare, and somehow I now feel unprepared, hurried, and rushed. Almost in a frantic like state. Everything seems to be accounted for, so I hop in the truck and hit the road. It's only about a 30-minute drive to where I will be fishing. I have plenty of time to get there, but I drive well over the speed limit almost the entire way there, feeling like I need to hurry.
8pm...I'm here! I finally arrive at the river. It's what I have been waiting for all day. I wader up, douse myself with DEET, rig up my rod, throw on my pack, and I'm ready to go. My entire day has been leading up to this moment. It's here now, it's finally time to.....WAIT. That's right, wait. The bugs won't be here for a few hours. I hike in to my spot and take a seat on the bank with my feet dangling in the water. I crack a cold one and light a cigar. The anxiety and anticipation that has been building up all day long is now gone. For the first time all day, my mind isn't racing. My head is clear, and I feel like I can finally relax. I sit and watch the river, listening to the flowing water accompanied by the many sounds of the NoMi woods. Everything just feels right. At this point in time I don't have a single care in the world. This is where I'm supposed to be, this is where I want to be, this is where I genuinely love to be.
Maybe tonight will be epic. Maybe the air will be filled with bugs, and the surface of the river covered with spent spinners. Maybe the river will boil with fanatically feeding fish. Maybe I'll catch the biggest brown of my life. But maybe I won't. Maybe the bugs don't show up tonight. Maybe the wind picks up, and a storm rolls in to shut everything down. Maybe the bugs show up but don't spin out. Maybe the bugs spin out, but there are no feeding fish to be found. Regardless of how the night unfolds, it does not matter. Don't get me wrong, I love to catch trout. But if there is one thing I love more than catching trout, it is the pursuit of trout. Countless hours spent reading, researching, looking at maps, tying flies, prepping gear, scouting water, and way too many other things to mention. All for the opportunity to fool a fish into eating a hook with some feathers tied on it. All to feel the power of that fish put a bend in a rod. All to get a fish to hand, to hold it, admire its beauty, and release it back to the river. I sometimes question my own sanity, but only for a moment. This is what I truly love to do, every aspect of it.
Maybe tonight I'll catch a 30, or maybe all I'll catch is a buzz. Regardless, tomorrow is another day. Another day to hurry up and wait.