The Other Side

As seen in The Guys Fishing Weekly – Subscribe Here

As spring gives way to early summer in the Rocky Mountains, snow melt and rain fill the rivers creating unfishable water.

There is a time just before these rivers and streams meet the point of “gushing,” where you can get into the water, even though it is stained and higher than usual. This can be a glorious time to fish, especially if you like fishing streamers, as I do. It is during this time I have honed my streamer fishing skills, trying all different kinds of casts and retrieves. I often hear my buddies say, “I gotta get better at fishing streamers” and this time of year provides the best opportunities.

Being a teacher, I am afforded more fishing time than most of my fishing friends. As soon as the school year ends, I am on the water as much as my other duties will allow. Being a dad and husband gotta come first, most days anyway. And since fishing provides the food to nurture my soul, I can’t wait to get on the water ASAP!

But here is where it gets tricky…school ends and, shortly after, runoff begins.

I understand no one is going to feel sorry for me with this particular predicament; however, I have become more attune to the fact that I need to be honed in on the river reports in order to maximize the amount of time I can get on the water. Some might call me a little obsessive about it during this time of year.

On one of my jaunts into the foothills this year, I became aware of something I hadn’t given much thought to before. Maybe it was because of the difficulty of getting to this particular stretch of water, or maybe it is because I am getting older and my mind goes in different directions than it used to. Probably a combination of the two. Whatever it is, I started thinking about the concept of “The Other Side.”

The water I was fishing on this particular day took some real energy to access. There is a hike along railroad tracks, steep decline into a canyon, climbing over boulders and rocks, and scaling rock wall cliffs. There is a trail to be sure, but because the water level is in full runoff mode, the trail isn’t always so simple to follow; the river has swallowed parts of it. At some points, creativity is key.

As I “hike” a river, half my time is spent looking at the water to find the good holes that no doubt are holding fish. The other half is spent looking at the ground, so I don’t trip, misstep, or roll an ankle causing me to take a tumble. Nothing worse than bruising your ego because you can’t put one foot in front of the other as nimbly as you once could. I always chuckle after taking a digger while fishing because the first thing I always do is look around to check and see if anyone saw me. Like that matters. I didn’t really have to worry about that on this day, as I had the water to myself. No one else was dumb enough to be out with the water running so high.

As I stopped to fish the few holes I discovered, I found myself constantly looking to the other side of the river. And wouldn’t you know it, there always seemed to be better spots! Every single time I looked up, the other side seemed to have an eddy, or slack water, or a much more easily accessible structure to cast to. It was like the river was taunting me, laughing at me. I couldn’t stop seeing it. “If only I could get to the other side…”

Alone on a river requiring a tough hike with difficult access leaves you with nothing but your thoughts. That’s when the mind really starts to take off. At least mine does. So this was the point where I started thinking about the concept of “The Other Side” and how often we use this in other aspects of our lives.

I am guilty of thinking “if only…” in all different realms of my life. I hear about vacations my friends take and think, “If only…” I hear about a friend’s breakthrough in their relationship with someone and I think, “If only…” I hear about people’s positive experiences with their work and I think, “If only…” I’m sure I am not the only one who does this, but I started to wonder how often I do it compared to others. What is the “normal” amount of envy one should exhibit?

As I began to think about it more, I went down a path of regretful wondering. How much have I missed because I was looking somewhere else? How many good fishing holes have I passed by because I was looking at the other side of the river? How many experiences have I missed or at least lessened because I was looking past it to the next one?

The profound conclusion I came to was simple and nothing new…be more present. Pay attention to what is happening around you as much as you can. It seems when I am able to do this, the experiences I have are more cemented in my story. These are the times I remember most and speak of when telling others.

I won’t tell you that I came back from that day of fishing a “new” and “changed” man. However, I will tell you that these moments on the river for me add value to the person I continue to become. These thoughtful “conversations” I have with my mind while I am alone help me to keep growing. They do change me, even slightly, and help me continue to nurture my perspective.

“The Other Side” will always taunt me, and I welcome it! I need to see the other possibilities the world has to offer, so I can move forward with confidence.

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