Cherry cheeks, gaudy red flanks, a painted belly and that alluring blue aura, the fish cruised the bank like a supermodel on a catwalk. Who knew that golden trout could strut? I wanted her bad, and I had my shot. Looking down into the limpid shallows from my perch on the hill, I gave her my best stuff – three, four, five presentations of what had to be the right dry-fly. She gave me just enough attention to break my heart, then turned, casual in her disinterest, and headed away into the deep.
Chances are what Conservation Hawks fight for everyday. They understand that climate change is advancing disease, destroying and degrading habitat, warming rivers, shifting ranges and siphoning off life-giving water from fish and wildlife populations; in other words that it’s the single biggest threat to our hunting and fishing. Up near the divide in the Northern Rockies, casting among late June icebergs to a species that lives only in the highest, coldest and most pristine waters, the stakes are self-evident. I get to experience this wonderful fishery, but unless we right the ship, it’s not looking very good for my grandkid’s chances. Recognizing that every major wildlife conservation victory in American history has depended on the grit, self-reliance and can-do attitude of the sporting community, Conservation Hawks is helping hunters and anglers like us defend the opportunities of future generations.
Given the chance this spring to make my own humble contribution to the cause, I was flattered to be selected as the winner of their writing contest. Thus I found myself armed with an Orvis Helios 2, 6 weight 10′ fly rod, and another shot at the title as that golden tailfin waved farther and farther from shore. I’m not into gear for the sake of gear. Anything going in my pack had better earn it’s keep by performing well at multiple purposes. And I scrutinize each potential acquisition with a simple question: Will having this thing (garment, rod, gun, gadget, scope etc.) expand my opportunity to do what I love, or am I better off on that score with my old faithfuls and money in the bank? It’s a high bar, the result of which has been a Spartan (Steven might say sad) toy collection. But not any more; this Helios 2 is an utter game changer. It’s light, fast, responsive, gorgeously appointed and delicious to cast. More to the point, it gives me opportunities I never had before.
The cruising golden was little more than a fading shadow as I lined up one last cast – a literal long shot into the wind that I wouldn’t have even considered with another set-up.
I let the loop fly.
The bug settled to surface.
A thickness filled my throat.
She slid forward, tipped her nose to the sky, slowly rose, opened her mouth and with one last kick…
We’ve still got a chance. Lets make sure our kids will too.