Thursday, March 13, 2008

I have been feeding a landlocked group of 29 fat rainbow trout kerneled corn this winter.
I discovered Trout like kerneled corn when I was but a youth.
We would open a can and toss in a handful of corn into the water every 20 seconds or so.
Dad called it chumming. I called it......well.....chumming I guess.
These fish are living in the last pool of water remaining on the lower portion of the Big Lost River.
The river is dry for 6 miles above this section of river but this quarter mile stretch is spring fed and has continued to run even though the river is dry.
So life is really good for these fish because....hey, free corn.
The river was cutoff in October by a local farmer who decided to place a huge boulder strewn dam across the entire length of the river (maliciously by his own admittance) and then blame it on a beaver.
As I heard this farmers "BEAVER" rebuttal given to the Idaho department of water resources an image of a beaver with a pelt so huge it could carpet my whole home came into my mind.
I pictured that dinosaur sized beaver hard at work, grabbing 1 ton rocks with what must be awfully bad chipped teeth, and placing them in perfect order across the river.
I even pictured him giving kids river tours and then eating them before they realized that huge beavers were actually dangerous.
We all know that a beaver that big would not be content with eating trees. If there was a beast that size he would only eat human flesh. End of story.
As I tried to compute this atrocity in my mid aged brain I got a little depressed.
I couldn't help, being the Fly Fisherman that I am, thinking of the literal thousands of fish that suffocated in stale pools and then got eaten by Lord knows what.
Trout need moving water to breath. It carries the oxygen they need to live
So instead of run the death scene of all those fish over and over in my mind I decided to concentrate on the fish that were in my pool.
Heck they were still alive!
Each one of them over 16 inches and beautifully colored.
In fact I named several of them, and right now I feel kind of awkward telling you all that because who in their right mind names trout?
I do.
One of the trout, which I named GIMP, a 17 inch male, has a crooked back.
I actually caught and released him earlier this year and discovered the crook in his back is from an injury, not disease.
Anyhow, he is the most aggressive trout in the pool.
When I throw a handful of corn into the water, he becomes a heat seeking corn missile, darting this way and that, swallowing as many yellow kernels as possible.
I have to say that he eats 40% of the corn by himself.
I even witnessed him biting and ramming other fish so he could eat their kernel, kind of like a overweight youth I went to junior high school with. He wouldn't actually bite but man he could ram you hard...........Wait scrap the "he didn't bite" part.
He DID bite!
Anyhow, I quickly realized that the crook in his back has made him strong.
If I had a crook in my back I can guarantee I wouldn't be swimming/walking/reading a book very fast. In fact, if anything, I would prolly be creating a clothing line for people who are "tall in the legs then really short and bent up through the back"
I could also see the crook hampering the somersault lessons I plan to give my daughter this year.
It actually makes me happy to see one of the Lords little creations doing the best he can with his handicapped body, and excelling at it.
Anyhow, GIMP is a champion to me.

Right beside GIMP is RED.
RED has the most brilliant red stripe down her side that I have ever seen.
The crimson hue is incredible, especially in the noonday sun.
RED is a little standoffish but does consume her portion of corn. She likes to run with the pack as I have never seen her roaming the shallows alone
I can almost picture her as the life of the party, or at least the fish most likely to be mated with.
Then there is TROUT MOUTH and the ever present king of the pool HOG.
(Yes I know, the names are Boone Barnes specials)
These two fish are always avoiding each other. Maybe it is the fact that HOG is the biggest fish in the pool @ 20 inches (give or take an inch) and prolly weighs in at 3 ½ pounds, and TROUT MOUTH is only about 16 inches/1 ½ pound and has a misshapen lower jaw (prolly from getting rammed by fish like GIMP)
Oh the stories he could tell.
I will not go so far as to admit that I wish I could understand what a fish has to say, but man it would be cool wouldn't it?

Recently the pool has been losing water and the ground water flows have started to decline.
Yesterday I parked my truck on the river bank and busted out a fresh can of corn. I almost ran down the pool in anticipation of getting to feed those rowdy trout. What I found sickened me. The river was no longer flowing and the pool was frozen over. 3 inches of fresh ice kissed the top of the window to their world. I could no longer see them but I knew they were there, wondering where their corn was, and why they couldn't see the mountains or the trees any more..I almost think that they know.
They know that their march is in it's last mile. The slow agonizing suffocating final mile.
I can't help but relate these beautiful creatures and their struggles to my own life, and the constant almost overwhelming pressure of each and every day.
Am I letting my time on Earth ice over?
Am I so worried about the why's and whatnots of the world that I fail to realize the water in my own pond is declining and will someday dry up.
Life's lessons can be gleaned from any experience we have if we but allow our hands to touch and our hearts to love.
When spring comes and the water returns to the lower Big Lost river in mud laden torrents, and the ghosts of those wiley trout.... Gimp, Red, Hog and Trout Mouth, are released, you will find me on the river bank lost in thought, thanking the Lord above for the return of the life giving water.
I will never forget those feisty rainbows and their vitality and willingness to go on and enjoy their life, no matter what presents itself.
And as for now, I think I will defrost a few layers of ice on my own life...maybe take my wife to Hawaii...overcome my fear of flying.
Hug my little daughter a tad bit longer in the morning before I go to work.
Thank my parents for loving me so much.
Maybe this was a good thing after all.
Just Maybe...

Check out this video: The Trout in the Pool

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Dan~Nicole~Braxton~Blaze said...

Wow! Again! So profound and so true to life! After Dan's sister lost her 6th baby (found no heartbeat only hours before delivery), I have been pondering a lot of things lately. Yes, we are fragile and our time on earth is even more fragile. What we do now makes all the difference! Thank you for this beautiful message and for saving these worthwhile creatures we call "trout". Many "trout" have be touched by you!

Love ya,

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