Voices from the river

Voices from the River: Lost and found

“History is written from what can be found; what isn’t saved is lost, sunken and rotted, eaten by earth.”

—Jill Lepore

By Dave Ammons

Hey, I found your fishing rod.

It was early morning during my daily walk up the road as the lig

ht was breaking across the canyon walls. I passed the day-use area on the opposite side of the road where the gravel pullout accommodates one or two cars on any given day, and hadn’t noticed anything peculiar other than there were no cars parked that morning. It was too early for even the most ardent fisherman to have made the trek that far from town.

On the way back down the canyon however, now on the same side as the pullout, I saw the rod lying at the gravel’s edge. At first glance I assumed it had to have been broken and discarded. As I drew closer it became clear it was not intentionally left behind.

I’ve lost many an implement walking the river. A nice pair of forceps with orange rubber handles. A few zingers. Probably close to a hundred flies over the years loosely fashioned to a sheepskin patch. A coveted fly box holding a collection of favorite dries. But river karma works both ways, as it should. I’ve found a nice Yeti cooler bag tangled up in driftwood at the river’s edge that must have floated down from places above. Alas, no cold beer inside. And the forceps I kicked out of the long grasses behind the rip rap near Mel’s place were even nicer than the pair I lost. But the real treasure was your rod.

It was completely intact, not a scratch. It was a high-end rod with a beautiful mid-arbor reel replete with a fine fly line, leader and a popular dry fly pattern that always seems to work well in that river. My best guess is you spent around $900 all in. You must have laid it on the ground at the tail end of the prior day’s fishing when the dusk created shadows and hiding places, probably a little distracted, tugging your waders off, thinking about the drive home in the dark. Perhaps you were reflecting on a successful day, musing on the number of fish you lured from the depths and the shallows both. Or like me you were under a spell, mesmerized by the quiet and unseen forces of the mountains.

Make no mistake I’m well aware of how karma works, so after picking up the rod and walking it back to the cabin, I logged on to Craigslist to post the item in the lost and found section. All I offered was that the rod and reel were found in the Poudre Canyon and as long as you, the rightful owner, could describe the make and model and the day and location you lost it, I would be happy to get it back in your hands. The offer still stands.

I can imagine the awful, sinking feeling in your gut when arrived home and realized the rod was missing. Your mind furiously retraced your steps and your stops. You thought about when you last had it in hand. Did you place it atop the car where it gripped the roof as best it could until after picking up a little speed it clattered off? Did you leave it leaning against a fence post at the last stop? (As an aside, I did leave a note there.) You weren’t quite sure. So, you checked the car. You checked the driveway. You checked the garage shelf. You even patted the pockets of your pants to make sure you had your wallet. Then you checked the car…again. After a while, regrettably, you had no choice but to resign yourself to the loss.

Just so you know, that morning I spent a few minutes casting in the yard with your rod, getting the feel for its balance. The line stripped smoothly through the ferrules, the aim was true. It was a very fine fly rod. But the day’s chores beckoned so I placed the rod across the top set of nails on the wall of the fishing porch, respectfully, knowing it was best left alone until it could be claimed. Two weeks later, having received no response to my post and finding nothing posted in kind by some despondent fisherman looking for his lost rig, I re-posted. Time passed and still…nothing.

My friend, I must confess, in the ensuing two years there have been times I’ve taken your rod down and fished with it. I believe I’m honoring you by keeping your equipment in fishing shape, retaining its purpose. No rod so well-suited for this river should remain dormant. By the way I caught a couple of nice ones and the rod responded agreeably, the action seemed to give it life.

I think that maybe one day you and I will be fishing the same water, say hello and ask each other if we’ve had any luck. If the conversation persists a moment longer you might recollect the good days and the bad ones, including the day you lost a favorite rod of yours. Of course, that would prompt me to ask you when and where and how that happened. I may mention that I live up here and with a twinkle in my eye offer up that I occasionally find things, and we will at the same moment realize I have your rod. We’d head up to the cabin to reunite the two of you, reflect on coincidence and good fortune, and shake hands as we bid farewell.

In the meantime, somewhere along the continuum I’m hoping you are experiencing reciprocal karma, that you are finding your own treasure along the river banks and the roads of your life.

Dave Ammons is a TU volunteer and a member of the Zane Grey Chapter in Arizona.

By Chris Hunt.