I’ll be on the road to the Sacramento edition of the International Sportsmen’s Exposition this morning and, according to forecasts, should be slogging through welcome but heavy rain. Don’t get too excited for me: it’s going to be a bit more like torture.
I’m leaving the checkbook and credit cards at home, carrying only enough cash for lunch.
I’m taking a
cheaper simpler approach to the coming year that will be reflected in my fly fishing, though stopping short of tenkara. Last year didn’t go well, fishing wise, and changes on the job this year will bring incessant deadlines and blank pages in need of words. Anyone with a job today should be grateful, and I am, but it’s going to be tough to string together more than a few days off without risking some kind of pre- or post-vacation penalty. Big hopes for 2013 require planning. The fiscal reality is that dollars can stretch only so far. (Yes, I do feel some guilt that I won’t be helping a great deal to lift the fly fishing industry out of its apparent struggles, so it’ll be up to the rest of you this year.)
Much of the change this year can be blamed on my brother. Our conversations of late reminded me that what sticks with us most are the experiences of our life: riding our bikes as kids to the five ‘n dime or hiking the Sierra Nevada high country during family vacations. I don’t think we truly appreciated it at the time. The considerable value we now place on these experiences seemed to swell as our own children grew up.
So my visit to the ISE will be maddening, comprised of gear I won’t buy and guide trips I won’t take. There will be a visit with Derek Young, who I got to know as an unassuming and friendly guy before he was named 2011 Orvis Guide of the Year, some milling about various seminars, and likely encounters with other folks I’ve fished with.
My plans entail simplifying and diversifying. Much of my fishing will be refocused to waters near and not-too-far-from the family cabin in the Sierra foothills, something that’s long overdue. I’ll “make do” with gear I have and spend at least two long weekends there each month of the trout season. (My budget may allow for a very nice net handcrafted by a fly fishing club member and up for auction in April.)
It’ll be more about an exploration; a more mature approach in which satisfaction doesn’t hinge on numbers worth bragging about. There’s too much ground to cover in a single year, but the goal will be to cast flies to waters along the Highway 4 corridor, further up Highway 108, and on new stretches of the various forks of the Stanislaus River. All of those weekends should provide plenty of opportunity to spend more than a few days in the Walker River Basin; it’s only two hours away. There’s only one guide trip on the books (with Derek), and that may be the only one this year.
Dates have also been cleared on the cabin calendar for visits by my brother’s and sister’s families. And it’ll be darn nice if the wife — who recently rediscovered the detachment and contentment that can be found in the foothills — joins me more than a few times.
Diversification will mean revisiting diversions that aren’t enjoyed enough. Acting like tourists in our backyard, something started with our visit to Alcatraz last month. I’ll send the motorcycle seat out for a custom fitting more suited to longer rides. Rides that may or may not include fishing, and some that may include the wife.
You can chalk all of this up to wisdom gained with age, or — like me — simply decide to make the most with what you’ve got while you can.