Over My Waders

Opening Day

By Reed F. Curry

It is an incredibly sensual, provocative drawing... a 19th century engraving of a Moorish woman carrying a water jar on her shoulder, her face half turned toward the viewer, and a smile, just for you, emerging on her lips. The subject is fully clothed, there is no bare flesh to offend, yet the very presence of the clothing, in contrast with the promise of the smile, is libidinous.

I've always had difficulty sleeping the night before the opening day of trout season. Opening Day! Since childhood that has been a day of wonder, in the expectation, and a day of disappointment... after the fact. Inevitably, it has been too cold on the ponds to fish dries, and the water too high and fast in the streams to fish without weight. Once, perhaps, I caught a trout on First Day, but no more than that. Yet every year, foolishly, I look forward through the long winter to that chilly dawn. Like my Moorish wench, the allure is sharpened by the lack of anything but promise. After six months of piscatorial abstinence, the desire, nay, the lust, to see a brook trout freely rise to a drifting dry borders on intoxication. So, I often stave off the worst dizzying effects by standing on a windswept lake, five holes hand-augered through 18" of blue ice freezing over even as the traps are baited, staring with vapid expectation at the staggered arc of flags, willing one to spring up before my body goes into total system shutdown. Ice fishing is the cold shower after a promising, but chaste, evening with the prom queen; some of the craziness is freezer-burned away, but the core desire is only momentarily subdued, not overcome.

What curious creatures we are, for without want we can never truly be fulfilled, without hunger, sated. It's for that reason that I feel sorry for those who must live in a state that, cruelly, doesn't provides their citizens with the opportunity for an Opening Day… with the attendant bleak contrast of Closing Day to ring in six interminable, arid, desolate months without a moment on the stream or lake. Of course, I can understand why those locales which depend on tourist dollars would want an unlimited season, and even that State fisheries management might bow to industry pressure and knowingly allow the trampling of spawning gravel. Greed and cowardice will always be with us, what disturbs me is that fishermen themselves don't stand up and ask for a fallow season, a time for healing for the streams.

All content copyright Reed Curry © 2006.
Cartoon by Walter Young © 1961, used by permission.