Wednesday, August 27, 2014

When Your Time Comes

While dragging the kayak up the sand on Sunday, I met a man who has been coming to Aruba since the mid-1970s. In those days, he used to fish in the October tournaments sponsored by the local yacht clubs. He participated every year until 1995, when one of his best friends had a heart attack on the boat and died. We agreed that there are worse ways to go; even so, he didn't have to explain why he now fishes from the beach.

In the twenty years since then, the man has caught only two fish. He sees them swim by—jacks, bonefish, snook—and he casts for them, but whether he catches them or not is unimportant to the experience.

As it turns out, he landed the second fish just last week: a snook that topped thirty pounds on the scale his wife uses to weigh their luggage. A young couple pointed the fish out to him as it cruised along the beach. "Is that the kind you're trying to catch?" they asked.

The fight took him a few hundred yards north, then south again, scattering bathers and drawing a small crowd. (Aruba being a friendly place, I actually heard about the fish on the day it was landed.) Somehow, he and the snook managed to avoid all the arms, legs, buoys, and other obstacles that might have intervened. When the leader finally snapped, the fish was too tired to swim away. "It was my time," the man said, gratefully.

Which reminds me that my own time is coming. Soon I'll be back in Mongolia for a tenth season on the river. You can spot me at the oars in this short video by filmmaker Juliaan Braatvedt, who visited us in Mongolia last season, or read about our work in this article by writer and photographer Rasmus Ovesen. (In that story, I am "the guide.")

And though it's hard for me to say if this is a sign of success or a signal of depravity, Mongolia River Outfitters was recently mentioned on (number 4 on their list of "can't miss" flyfishing destinations).

While I'm gone, look for "Why I'll Hunt, Again" in the November issue of Gray's Sporting Journal, or visit Total Carp's website for the story of an unusual hatch in Tokyo.

On Flydreamers, you'll find an homage to the underappreciated lenok, and on Wattpad, a short story set in the Florida Keys that originally appeared in the fall 1994 issue of Onion River Review.

Here's to autumn . . .

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