Friday, January 9, 2015

The River is my Refuge

It has been a long, long while since I have been motivated to write....

My health has been the major reason I have not returned to my page. Since my last post I have constantly struggled to get better. My emotional state declined as well as my physical health.I had finally found a good team of doctors who were helping me turn the corner....

I have had six surgeries to improve my quality of life and to try to enjoy some of the things that brought peace to my suffering. Through it all I have come to realize one common truth
                                                    "Live for the moment!"

My fishing time has been severely limited and more often than not I am left to my own thoughts. I struggled through pain and control over my body. I find myself grateful that I still am able to do what I can.

As luck would have it I have some people in my life who will give me a swift kick in the ass when I want to give up. My wife has forced me to wake up and get ready as she drove me several hours to a fishing spot of sacrificed sleep which she is not prone to do. My son also grew into a baby man child with a drivers license and the desire to kick my ass into the river as well.

Quality over quantity has become another mantra of mine. Anything is often better than nothing as I have caught less fish, but cherished each battle with more appreciation than ever.

                                                   "Pay it forward! Always!!!"

I am legally physically disabled. Some may look at me and think what the funk is wrong with him? Well, each persons medical history is their own and many choose to keep theirs private. But, know this....before you judge someone try to understand them first. Many people struggles with unseen illnesses and the attitude that them not being sick is often more hurtful than the illness themselves.

One of the greatest qualities of man is compassion. Never forget to use it! I have heard way to many times that it doesn't pay to be nice! Get yours while you can! I do not and will not understand that way of thinking.

Illness has a way of telling you what is really important in life! People! It is the relationships you make and how you treat those who are a part of your life. Over the last year it seems I have been in touch with more of my older friends, meaning old friendships that have taken a bigger importance. For me that seems to be my old fishing buddies. Along the way you make new ones as well that hopefully will turn into old ones too. Some of my fondest memories are often my most unexpected when a complete stranger can strike up a conversation simply due to your common love of the river and her bounty.

Even though I cannot fish as much as i would like my love for fishing is no less than before, if anything the passion is even more fierce! I have tried to use the time spent not fishing for other en-devours somewhat related. One of which was rebuilding several old rods and just having fun with the whole process. Much of what I learned was trial and error and I even rebuilt a rebuilt rod to improve on it again.

There is something about catching a fish on a fly you tied and the same goes for catching one on a rod you built or rebuilt as well. There is something magical about it that is hard to explain. Anybody can buy the best rod, but to catch one on one of your own creation gives you a special feeling. It also helps that I have never been quite satisfied with the length of any fighting butts I have come across. Picking the colors and the style of the wrap to your very own liking as well as the placement of something as simple as a hook keeper with the finished product knowing everything is just the way you wanted it and you don't have to settle for something store bought.

Then there is the feeling of letting the mighty fish swim away. Home made fly....homemade rod....the appreciation of the fight and then the release. I can't think of a better way to spend a sunny fall morning with friends.

Most of the rods I rebuilt were close to 20 yrs old! Now, to me they are like brand new again and the cost is very minimal compared to a brand new rod.

My favorite so far was a 9 foot St.Croix rod I used for many years and caught countless Steelhead on. Th handle had gotten chewed up and the tip was busted off. I  rebuilt it on the idea of another old favorite rod I had, a Berkley Lightning Rod. I think I came close with the color scheme on the wrap, but opted to paint the rod florescent orange to make it stand out so I went with a little bit more wrapping then I planned as well. Just a little secret, the black on the butt section was colored by a clack Sharpie!

I took another idea with using czech beads for nymphs and with my sister's guidance even made some jewelry!

                   eventually evolving into semi-precious stones, copper and silver........

Life is a journey and one path leads you onto a path you never expected to take. I made some necklaces as well and the inspiration for creating things led into drawings and computer artwork and the idea to challenge myself to learn new ideas and create bigger and better things than I had ever imagined....

Although I have seen my share of curve balls thrown by life, I have made the conscious decision to just learn how to hit the curve, because I sure as hell ain't about to give up.

Fishing is still a huge part of my life. I just have to listen to my body and take what I'm given and make the most of it and appreciate every chance I do get. When i get out I try to make the most of it and I still have the luck of the fishing gods on my side and with help from others I still will be able to get into the heavy of it all.

I've found you can meet the nicest people along her banks, but the rudest as well. The choice is yours which you choose to be. My refuge is the river! we have a and her! her waters flows as through the earth as mine own blood through my veins. In all of her splendor as the sun sparkles across the surface reflecting warmth onto my face and the coolness of her touch as it caresses my skin! Her roar and laughter at life as she tumbles over the rocks and logs always moving ever downstream. The smell of the rushing waters in her deep pools and eddies so dark and often menacing with untold mysteries. So many memories she holds for me......but, I am eager for the new ones yet to come!


  1. Mike, your story is an inspiration! I to went through similar circumstances last Christmas Eve...quintuple heart bypass. My wife and my fishing and blogging friends brought me back to reality after two weeks of drug induced stupor. I celebrated my one year anniversary a few weeks ago and I'm looking forward to a soon to be placed pacemaker and fishing once again. Keep the spirit alive!

  2. Wow... So much of this post reminds me of how I feel. You do appreciate things more when you don't have the health and strength to do it. Glad you are managing it as well as you are and still getting out to wet a line every once in awhile. It is our therapy! It's been a challenging year for me and my time on the water is often followed with a day of rest. Good luck and great thoughts written here today. =)