This is a re-print of a column I wrote for the Oakland Press several years ago after a reader chastised me for my misuse of the word “patience.” (patients).
They say patience is a virtue, and mine is constantly being tested ….by me. Once I decide to do something, I usually forge ahead like a bull in a china shop and with the same consequences. Take the time I watched a rising trout on a section of the Jordan I had great difficulty getting to. It took planning and constant adaptation to make my way through a bog that looked to be more solid ground than it actually was. By having a little patience I finally got through and sat on a downed cedar log alongside the bank to catch my breath. As I sat there I observed the happenings in and on the river: ducks were swimming along the slow side of the river, stopping to rest in a small pool; grouse drummed behind me and across the river and feeding trout dotted the surface further downstream. There were (and still are) riffles about 50 feet upstream from where I was sitting and the river curved sharply just below me. On the inside half of the bend a trout was feeding – he wasn’t just the run of the mill trout, this fish was a monster as trout in the Jordan go. I watched him for quite a while and finally formulated a plan in my mind on how to approach him in a way that would allow me to throw a fly and set it gently directly in his window. The problem was, I was on the deep side of the river and the current was swift.
Going upstream to enter wasn’t possible because of the riffles and trying to cast from the bank wasn’t an option because of overhanging trees and bushes. My only option was to go downstream, enter and make my way back upstream. The problem there was he was feeding just above the bend and that made him invisible until I was almost on top of him. (He didn’t get as big as he was by being stupid.)
My patience was starting to wear thin; I wanted that fish. He rose again. This time he cleared the surface revealing him to be a brookie. He was without a doubt the biggest brook trout I’d ever seen on the Jordan and it was as though he laid a challenge at my feet; I had to cast a fly to him. Tying on a parachute Adams, size 14 on a 6x tippet, I decided the best approach was to cross over above the riffles, and hug the bank making my way toward the bend without disrupting his feeding. The current was almost nonexistent on the other side and wading would be easy.
Since he was feeding almost at the tip of the bend, it was necessary to go far enough toward the middle of the river in order to be able to see the drift of the fly, mend and react if and when he took it. After several casts – each one falling short of where I wanted to place it – I inched closer which meant going further out toward the middle of the river. Several more casts with no interest from the big trout, I stopped, took a quick glance at my footing and took two more sidesteps. The rest is history.
My lack of patience made me a patient. All of a sudden I lost my balance, slid from the sand shelf into a hole, water poured into my waders and I wrenched my back trying to regain my footing.
I reluctantly divulge this chapter in my fishing experience to make the point I know the difference between the words “patience and patient”. More than one reader picked up on my error in the word usage in last week’s column. That too was due to a lack of patience.
Seamus could teach patience to a snail. In the dictionary, there ought to be a picture of him next to the word. Every night he sits, starring at me, waiting for three things to happen: he wants his nightly dish of frozen yogurt and banana concoction; the ability to lick our ice cream bowls; and to be taken for a walk. He knows if he becomes too pushy he’s likely to miss out so he just sits or lays, watching with a sad eyes – a look that usually pays off for him.
Seamus has his moments of reckless abandon too; catching a scent too soon as he gets out of the truck on a pheasants hunt can cause him to yelp like a beagle until the bird flushes, then as the bird flushes and flies away, he realizes his mistake and settles down. You can bet when that cold water hit warm spots of my body, I settled down too. Patience re-learned.