Third time out to Round Valley this fall, a major curtailment on my habit ofshowing up two, three times a week from October through April, and then through May for bass. I can never get enough of this place, so last week I really struggled with my desire to go, finally settling on the work I had to get done instead. Was that a good decision? Definitely. Times exist when, if I don't throw anchor, sort of dive overboard, and get deep into writing especially--lots of chores scattered around it besides--I would otherwise lose my hold on plans and the best I can do with the means I have at staying reasonably happy. But I've experienced at Round Valley life so well fulfilled it's felt enough. Funny thing is, no matter how good you are accepting what you have, time always takes it away. That's the secret of ambition: you can be plenty happy as things are, it's just that life won't let it be. And while plenty of people at least seem stable compared to me, by virtue of my moods as changing as the weather, I am driven all the more to achieve, since every day is new one.
So I got down beyond the Ranger boat dock before Fred arrived, noticing Mike's Volvo as I drove in. He had set up on one of the points, and as I arranged three rods, Fred drove in. Since Fred talked about going around the bend, I agreed, since my favorite spot had a couple of anglers fishing it. Fred had seen a couple of lakers caught where we soon departed to, last winter.
First, I walked off and spoke to Mike for five or 10 minutes as Fred geared up. Part of the reason I was so intent on going last week involved upping the chances of seeing Mike. Well, he hasn't let up a bit. He's caught 30 so far this season, and gets out a lot, as always. He fished shiners today and had missed a hit. (When Fred and I left, he had missed another.)
Fred and I walked some 300 yards to set up where the shore steepens fairly dramatically. He mentioned he once caught a smallmouth here fishing from his boat, sometime back when the water level was more and less normal. Now it's down some 15 feet, revealing some amazing structure as one of the photos shows.
Three rods each, one of mine is the noodle rod I'll never use for steelhead again, since my son and I are into fly fishing for them, but I sure am glad I have it for Round Valley. Casts amaze me. So smooth it's as if the rod's made of butter; that light power, super-slow action catapults a rig forever. And I said to Fred I'll never forget the nine-pound, three-ounce steelhead I caught on a noodle rod, happened to be supplied by guide Eric Geary, and I certainly won't. What an amazing fight, and every bit as authentic as with a fly rod. It's just that when you move on, so you do. We could--logically--move on from 7-weight traditional fly casting to spey casting.
We sat on rocks and stood on gravel and talked about all sorts of things. Two hours went by swiftly. I broke the news that it was time to go, as we agreed on two hours. So much to get done. We may be back late in December. I have an 8 x 10 photo for Mike of him holding a nice laker I meant to bring today, but forgot. But first thing Mike did: he thanked me profusely for featuring him in my recent The Fisherman story.
"My buddy Joe calls and says, 'Mike! You're famous!"
Fred baits at the drop.