Great thread Futzer.
This is something I’ve often pondered; usually when I’m fishing already. I’ve been lucky in my life and I’ve fished some excellent water all across this great land. I must admit though, I’d spend my “last day” right here on my home water where the greatest number of my fishing memories were made. I have two rivers that I call my home water:
One is the West Canada Creek and it’s where I cut my fly fishing teeth and where I caught my first fish on a fly I tied myself. It’s a dry fly fisherman’s dream (certainly one of mine as well); clear, full of big browns, very picturesque and has a few spots that rarely see a fly, so the solitude is intact. The hatches are varied and strong from #22 BWOs to #6 stones and almost everything in between. The fish can be really picky as well, and test the mettle of the best tied flys and the best presentation. If that weren’t enough, it’s open all year in a designated C&R stretch that has the best water/habitat and, not surprisingly, the best fish.
The other “home water” is the Salmon River, where I spend my time chasing steel and browns that will scare the hell out of anything less than an 8 weight. Sure, you can catch fish on a 5 weight, but those aren’t the ones I’m after; 15 pound browns and 20 pound chromers are not the dream, they’re a reality and have the mangled remains of flys attached to broken tippet hanging out of their scarred mouths to prove it. That river is also open all year and, some would say, I spend too much time in it.
As for who I’d bring, that’s a no brainer: there are two. One is my dad and he is the reason that I tie flys and fly fish at all. The patience of a saint and years of fishing the chalk streams of PA made him the perfect teacher. Throw in an antique vice, a container of moldy feathers that smelled of 40 years of moth balls, a box of miscellaneous (and not too awfully rusty) hooks, and a 15 year old boy and he found the secret to keeping me off the streets and out of trouble (except for those few trespassing deals on private water. . . ). By the time I was in college, I was tying for a few of the local shops for extra cash so I could keep myself in materials and gas in my truck to fish the best water from the Adirondacks to the Sierras and almost all the water in the middle too. When I could find a pay phone, I’d call home (collect of course) and tell him all about my escapades fishing, living out of the back of my truck and subsisting on trout, potatoes and beer. Yes, I killed my share of trout back in those days and very gladly turned them back into nutrients, but I didn’t kill the big fish I caught because my father made sure I knew that those were the major breeding stock; surely the future of the sport. A number of years ago, I was lucky enough to be able to return a very small amount of what my father has given me back to him: I took him fly fishing for steelhead for his first time. To see him standing in the river with a big fish on, looking every bit like a kid, is something I will always cherish.
The other fishing buddy I’d bring is my son. At thirteen, he already ties as well as most of my friends and has the patience of his grandfather when it comes to spending a day on the river. Unlike many of my friends though, he’s always willing to go fishing on a moments notice and sees the beauty in spending a day casting a fly rod, even if the fish aren’t cooperating. Like many of the folks his age, he’s grown up in a time where conservation and being a good steward of the river means so much more than taking home a limit of chrome bullets. I’m sure the day will soon be approaching that that my dad won’t be around to fish with me and I’ll be the one on the other end of the phone (a cell phone no doubt) listening to the fly fishing adventures of a young man living out of the back of his truck and traveling the country in search of the best trout water. The only difference will be, he’ll be subsisting on power bars and not trout.
Yes, I do believe that those two rivers and those two fishing buddies would be my perfect “last day”, and it won’t even matter if I don’t raise a fish.