Predictor or Prey
A fish story per se
Since that passing of my brother-in-law to colon cancer, my nephew Brandon and I are frequently visiting Brandon’s inherited cabin in Northern Michigan. Trips together center on completing various projects to sustain the cabin, a wee bit of partying, and always finding time for some trout fishing.
Both of us are novices in the art of fly fishing; enjoying natures serinity while also learning the process of attractively presenting a dry fly without spooking the native brook trout we are pursuing.
After a long morning of trout fishing on this cold spring fed river and some afternoon cabin repairs, I decide to rest along the rivers edge with a cold beer in toe. While comfortably reclining on the wicker lounge chair, I find myself debating whether to take a nap or a cool refreshing swim.
I decide on a late-day dip. In a headfirst dive from the dock, I submerge deep within this cold lazy river. This plunge down under soon causes quite a shiver. As I resurface and gasp for a full breath of air, I feel heart palpitations gaining rapid pace. With senses in overdrive, I also take in the rustling sounds of aspen and birch leaves at shores edge surrounding my space. I wonder, will deep breathing calm these peculiar pulsations, or will the river enrapture my swimming sensations?
Quite unexpectedly, I find myself in a state of paralysis and unable to swim. Try as I might, I feel the current pulling this bather downstream from the dock, flowing on with the trout as this cold current capture, creates its lock. What seems to be lead weights tied to my feet, I find myself sinking into the deep. No longer able to hold my breath, I draw in the cold river water, flooding my lungs.
Sensing my own drowning as my future demise, I succumb to my fate and close my eyes. But to my utter surprise I find myself transformed and swimming amongst neighboring trout. As I watch some of them on the rise, I find myself wondering, ‘What is it they’re after’?
I am perfectly content to swim down under, but as time passes on and daylight turns to dusk, I realize my hunger and the need to eat, a must. I now see the stoneflies landing and dancing on waters edge, so I join my fellow trout and raise my nose above the surface, just a hedge. Gulping down my first stonefly, then the next and next. What a treat!
This gorging continues as I ponder my new life as a trout. It’s not so bad, I think to myself. I swim as I please and eat plentiful during each day’s hatch. In this new life as a trout, I have no social media pressure or bad worldly news to cause me dispair. My only threats in life are the polluted trash from the human floaters and the neighboring river otters, but since I am a strong and fast swimming trout, the otters causes me no harm. Yes not a bad life.
This trout life uforia continues for many days until a day the hatch of choice offers a fly with a hoist. When I close my mouth and feel the painful tug on my lip, I fight hard to get free; swimming deeply, then counter currently, and finally lunging high in an airborne flip.
All these efforts I’m extending are not changing my fate. I am soon hoisted from the water as I realize this fly is artificial bait. Grasping for water to flow through my gills, I again suffer this no oxygen feel.
Although some bodies of water are catch and release only, the fishermen netting me has other ideas. I am soon thrown into a wicker fishing basket on the edge of this cold lazy river. Try as I might, I can not get oxygen into my lungs. I’m flopping and flopping, but the basket lid must have a latch as my efforts are only making me more light headed. I soon suffocate in the absence of air.
When I feel the wicker basket shake, I soon awake on the wicker lounge chair, pondering the state of this whole affair. Was this all just a dream of predator becoming the prey, or was this transformational journey something more?
I look up with dreary eyes to see my nephew, one hand holding the back of the lounge chair and another holding a cold beer. He asks, “Have a nice rivers edge snooze?”
“Quite an interesting fish story siesta.” I state. And after staring into this cold lazy river some more, I say, “I think I’ll join the Trouts Unlimited (TU) Chapter river cleanup tomorrow and I also feel our TU Chapter should sponsor this section of river as ‘Catch and Release only’.
Oddly enough, I felt the exact opposite way the day before.