It’s been a long week. I’m getting old and worn out. Sitting in my garage I lamented the fact that my boat is in the shop and will be for at several weeks.

I got up from my cold coffee and walked slowly across the concrete to the north wall that is adorned with rack after rack of rods. I removed two long rods from their brackets and carefully looked them over. Not misuse, but dust and dirt covered them. They had rested here for at least ten years, perhaps more. These were rods I had used so long ago for trout on local waters.

Carefully I cleaned the dust from them and wiped both of them dry. Leaders were already attached so I gathered my other gear; vest, waders and boots. I doubled checked to see that everything I might need was there. An hour had passed before I was satisfied everything was in order. I loaded the truck and backed into the road. Boat or no boat, I was going fishing.

As I drove into the mountains I reached back of the seat and touched the rods as if seeking reassurance. The predecessors to these two were what started me on a long road that I, as an angler, have been compelled to follow as if I have no will of my own.

My thoughts were of the great rivers I have fished in the last 50 years; the Babine and Frasier for winter steelhead, the Suisitna, Chuitna, Ugashik for giant salmon. The Naknak and the Kenai for

salmon and unbelievable rainbow. Those and a hundred others stretch from California through the northwest and on to Alaska and across the Bering straits to Siberia.

But it was not a great river that I sought out today. My legs have lost their strength and the current of even the nearby Provo River might be too much for me. I sought out a smaller water, a trout creek from my boyhood.

I was born during the last days of the Great War at my grandfather’s ranch at the mouth of Diamond Fork Canyon. It was here that I learned to fish with a grasshopper or a worm. But even this water might be too much for me so I drove on.

It was approaching noon when I arrived and already hot. It had been at least 10 years since I had been here and I feared that all of it might be posted. Relieved, I found none of the insidious signs on the fences.

The mountain valley’s air was flush with the fragrance of the stream, the willows and the wild grasses that adorned her shore. Camp-robbers, swallows and a wild canary welcomed me back after the long absence.

The water was only slightly chilled like a bottle of wine from a short stay in an ice bucket. It felt good on my legs as I climbed carefully through the barbed wire fence that crossed the stream.

Of the pair of rods, I had chosen an eight-foot, four weight rod with a nondescript reel. Unless the reel is designed to do battle with fish of unfettered ferocity there is no need to go to the expense of an expensive reel. For trout fishing the reels only purpose is to hold the line. No need to waste money or be pretentious.

The first casts were clumsy like a beginner and that is what I was…. only beginning to learn again. A size 16 black bodied humpy was on the leader when I loaded the rod and reel so I left it there. It slapped at the water and scared any trout that might have been there as I started out.

As I moved upstream the rhythm of the little creek overtook me. The long rod, the stream and I became one. For most of the time the dark dry fly landed where I wished and rode the currents back to me with little drag. I studied the river as one is expected to, should he or she intend to take a fish.

The first take was lightning quick and my slowed reflexes almost missed the strike. A diminutive brown trout took to the air at the sting of the hook with its crushed barb. The fish was tiny barely 7 inches. I took a quick picture and then gently released the trout, admonishing it to demonstrate more wariness in the future.

I was flush with excitement. Although the fish was small…I had caught one and the promise of more was there. I tied on a trude coachman so that I might see its float and moved slowly upstream.

Fish darted away at my approach in the martini clear water. One, two then another brown trout rose to the fly, but I missed them. I cursed silently, but it didn’t really matter, a strike was nearly as good as a take, I rationalized. A check to see if the barb was broken and with fresh floatant applied, I continued my quest.

The second fish was much bigger than the first. I thought of killing him for dinner then quickly dismissed the thought. How could I kill such rare beauty? The fish was photographed and released.

Brown trout lie in virtually every pool and tail water, but all were not catchable. In the clear water they spooked at my approach or rose to the fly only to dismiss it as a counterfeit.

As I moved along the creek I continued to search for signs of a insect hatch, but found none. Regardless of what was happening on the stream, there were grasshoppers in the fields nearby so I attached a small elk hair hopper that I had tied long ago when my eyes were still capable of completing such tasks.

Each time I opened the fly boxes I moved to shore not wanting the precious treasure to spill on the water and be washed away. I realized with an almost frightening certainty that the treasure of hook, feather and hair would have to last me the rest of my life as I could no longer see well enough to tie.

The midday sun was baking me. I sat on the grassy bank and reflected on the last three hours. Six magnificent brown trout had fallen to an old man’s skills, however rusty they might be. All were returned to continue their life in the little river. Their presence helped restore life back into me. I breathed deep of the rivers scent, caressed the long rod and began the long trek back to the truck fulfilled, as only the angler can be.

At the old wooden bridge, I stopped to view the little river for, perhaps, the last time. It had brought me joy when nothing else could, peace when I didn’t deserve it. This stream and all of her Sister Rivers that were borne of springs and glaciers in the high mountains across the globe were part of me as surely as if their waters ran through my veins.

From deep in my vest pockets I recovered a small metal flask and drank deep of the warm bourbon and wondered out loud, “Why has God given me this undeserved gift that others take so lightly?” With that I bid the river farewell, wondering if I would be given enough time to return.