As a principal of a school, I'm given many gifts. I'm able to support teachers in growing their skills, connect with kids, and build a feeling of community at our school. It's truly rewarding work and I love it. However, it's a lot of long hours saturated with stress. Fortunately, I get a good deal of time off to rest and reconnect with nature. Over winter break I took some time out from family obligations and went north on my own. Over the course of two days, I explored some of my favorite rivers and to my delight, they allowed me complete solitude. On one of those rivers, I spent the day being rained on while gliding nymphs through off colored pocket water. The cold weather and damp conditions kept everyone near the fire while I was waist deep, balancing on submerged boulders.
As anticipated, there were plenty of fish to be had. I've fished this particular river for about four years now, mostly solo. There are a few spots that consistently produce fish and they're always rainbows, sometimes big ones. However, this time, I was able to hook up with a nice 19-20" brown that caught me by surprise. Once I landed that big girl, the rest of the day was icing on the cake. I fished slowly, reflecting on the beauty of the river, and took every opportunity to soak in the solitude. Towards the end of the day I explored some new water that had piqued my interest on my last trip. The new water greeted me with good success. I'm not sure about you, but when I'm on my own, I tend to fish the places I know well. The places I know produce fish and that I know few people will be. Sometimes getting away from that routine can be just as, if not more, rewarding. As the sun began to dip behind the pines, I took my last few casts and walked back up the steep dirt trial to my car. With a deep breath and an even deeper sense of contentment, I packed up my fly boxes, broke down my rod, and drove back to the quiet hum of a small mountain town for the evening.