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Wednesday, August 26, 2009
This summer, while driving near Lake Placid, New York, I stopped my car to take a picture of a pretty mountain stream. Walking along the bank of the stream, I noticed a man "fly fishing". This is high level fishing, and I would dare say a high form of prayer.
I snapped the picture of him without his knowing (not very polite of me). When I returned to my car, I noticed a lone SUV parked nearby with Ontario plates. I assume it was the fisherman's vehicle. So, if you are from Ontario - and you know a fly fisherman who was in Lake Placid this summer, this may be your friend.
On the subject of fishing, twenty years ago I was invited by a trucking company in Maine to go on a fishing trip to the North Woods. The area is called "The Allagash." I invited a friend of mine to accompany me. We flew from Newark, NJ to Portland, Maine, rented a car and drove almost six hours to our first destination - the small town of Mars Hill. Travelling north, we spotted a moose drinking water at the bottom of a ravine. We stopped the car - walked slowly down the ravine to see the moose. The moose was casually enjoying this fresh spring water. (we have to pay for it!)
When the moose took notice of our presence, he/she lifted up it's head and gave us a glare. The water began to pour out of it's mouth. Uh Oh...time to go! We ran up the hill to the car and took off!
When we arrived in Mars Hill, we met some friends who helped us load our gear into a 4x4 truck. There were four trucks in all. We left Mars Hill for the North Woods, using intricate coordinate maps. Only the Mainers could read them. We were now going into "lumberman's territory." The lumber companies were not all too happy with us sportsmen. Every mile or so there would be a hill of gravel dumped right smack in the middle of the road. Either move it - or drive around it. We chose the latter. After a few hours of driving on very bumpy roads, we finally stopped. The leader of our group said "we are here." It was time to take our gear out of the truck, including a heavy canoe on the roof of each truck. The gear was loaded into the canoes. Two men per canoe - each man lifts up his end. Then the long hike through the woods to the lake. I believe this is called "portaging." After an hour of stop and rest, I came upon the most beautiful lake I had ever seen. It was perfect! Here was a glacial lake never touched by man. All the water and fish were delivered by God alone. The lake dark blue, deep and cold. The name of the lake was "Chase." We stayed in a cabin on the shore. It was built with lumber harvested at the site. As I recall, the cabin would only stand for two years, then it would come down.
We were all exhausted (or at least I was) and enjoyed a good night's sleep. In the morning, all of us men, teenagers and seniors, ran naked to the shore - each clutching a bar of soap and a towel. We were like marathon runners. Why run so fast? We were being pursued by very hungry black fies.
If you have never experienced black flies, you must go fishing in Maine - best in spring after the ice breaks. Black flies enjoy community living - and eating. They work together. When you swat them on your neck, your hand will be full of black fly guts and (your) blood. We jumped into the water and took the quickest bath ever. The water must have been 40*F!
After our lake bath, a good cup of coffee and a hearty breakfast, we all went fishing. It was heavenly. Out on the lake the water was calm - really like glass. We were only using fly rods. Bait such as worms and salmon eggs was not permitted. The State Game police would fly their prop planes over the lake - come down real close to you - and make sure you are abiding by the rules.
While we were fishing, I experienced what only one could experience on a lake like this. The water began to bubble - yes, like boiling water. Black flies and other assorted flying creatures were on the water - and the trout were just going crazy. We began to fish, taking out some pretty big trout. At least bigger trout than I had ever seen in New Jersey - which is maybe "one"...
Fishing is a perfect way to experience God - enjoying His creation, His first Revelation. And if the wind is still - the water clear - you will see a fish go by, reminding you of the very first fish you ever caught. Maybe you were with your dad, a brother, a huckleberry friend - and all your memories since that time will well up like water boiling with trout..
*** This all reminds me of the movie "A River Runs Through It."