Halfway to the North Pole, and I could use a diversion. Couple miles off the highway is one of the Last Best Streams, through a derelict Northwoods lumber town, down a gravel road.
Some of these streams I’m able to find a fair bit of information on beforehand. Others are mostly blank pages, a couple sentences in a spreadsheet reading very little visible development or anadromous fish stream- informative, but not necessarily descriptive. This one I can hear from the side of the road, tannin-stained water crashing around granitic boulders four billion years old, all along its course to Lake Michigan.
The water is chilly this morning and I don’t know what to fish; I throw on a bushy dry and a wild brook trout abides. I catch a nice brown, admire it, thinking it must be about as big as browns get in a stream this size, halfway to the North Pole.
I cast upstream, into a seam coming off the tail of a spit of sand along the bank. A bigger, broader brown lifts off the stream bottom, inhaling the fly. My line comes alive for a second, and then nothing.
Months later, it still hurts.