Yesterday I was privileged to spend the evening floating, fishing, and conversing with a new friend. We’d followed each other on social media for some time now, as one does these days, until he reached out and let me know that after some major life changes he lived not far from me and wanted to know if I wanted to fish. Yes. The answer is always yes when someone is genuine and wants to fish.

We ran upstream with the Hog until the rocks stopped us from going further. We really need rain. Badly. Those damned fake lakes up above the dams are truly hurting our rivers. Combine that with the out of control Asian carp and you’ve got a recipe for disaster where you’re damned with the dams if you do and damned if you don’t. I’ve got no good answer. I just know that this can’t continue for many more years or our river will become either a dry walking path or it will be over populated with those awful carp.

But I digress.

Even with 500 cfs trickle flows that plague north central Indiana in late summer, smallmouth were caught. I lost count but that’s not the point. The point is my new friend and I learned a lot about each other. That’s the blessing of fishing. At the end of the day, it’s not about the fish. They’re a by-catch of your day. Learning about another human that’s riding this same spinning ball of dirt as you are, that’s the true gift.

The Tennessee tarpon were eating yesterday while we made our way back downstream. I love seeing these guys when they make the water boil with their gluttonous feeding frenzies. The smallmouth were taking small streamers and poppers with equal regularity. With the low water, the fish were everywhere. Mid-river cruising the sand, on wood, and on rocks. As long as you could keep your fly in the water you’d probably find a fish. Which is the whole point of fooling an animal with the brain the size of pea. There were many smallies of varying size but I’m really noticing a healthy crop of smallies in the thirteen to fifteen inch range. God willing and the creek don’t rise, in several years we’ll have a nice bunch of trophy smallmouth to target. Then again hope floats and reality is down below and these fish are facing challenges. Most brought to you by the exact same species writing this and reading this. Us. Monkeys with toys. Humans. We kind of suck sometimes.

Dark comes too quickly to the river as fall creeps in. As we neared the end of our float and the takeout was in view the last fish of the evening was stuck. The hatch was getting thick in the air and the night birds started singing songs they’ve sung for thousands of years in north central Indiana.

I couldn’t help but think of how lucky I am to be living right now, even with all of the challenges we are facing. The river can wash away the stress of your daily life. The fish to hand can make you think it’s all worth it. But the conversations you have on the water are a gift from the universe.

Life is good.

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