December is mental murder for those (like i) that work in the retail world. Luckily i’ve been doing it for 26 years so it’s not quite the nightmare it could (and has been) in the past. Never the less, all conversations and fishing i managed during the month of December are little more than blurred images and voices that sound suspiciously like the adults from “Peanuts”.  A break was in order.

Boarding the plane on New Year’s Eve on a B-line for Colorado to spend a few days with my family i made every effort to leave my anxieties in the terminal as i made my way down the bridge to my flight.

As we took off from Austin and immediately banked to the west i found myself peering out of the window like a five year old and being drawn like a magnet to the waters that traced the contours of my stomping grounds. Onion Creek and Williamson Creek immediately popped into view, followed shortly by Town Lake and Barton Creek. As we ventured west and the junction of Lake Travis and the Pedernales came into view (below) i was overwhelmed by the amount of water around here that i had come to know over the years, all the memories, and all the possibilities that lay ahead.

Over the course of two short days in Monument, Colorado i was lucky enough to spend some quality time with my parents, my brothers and their families. It was probably the most relaxed i’ve ever been up there on the holidays, and it gave me a chance to reflect back on 2013, think about what could have happened, and focus on what i want to make happen in 2014, both personally and with this blog. This last year had me running on fumes in so many ways that it was refreshing to go to bed shortly before the midnight bell tolled and get some rest to start off 2014 with some fresh energy.

It didn’t take long for 2014 to rear it’s head and show the promise that laid ahead. On the second day there my wife displayed her eternal love for my well being by offering to take a half day trip to Pueblo, Colorado so that i could fish the flowing Arkansas river (title photo) for some trout. I hadn’t brought any fishing gear in an effort to not be pulled away by family by the call of a 3WT and a tenacious trout, so i was naked but ready to seize the oppurtunity. Fortunately my father fishes, so i raided his gear in under four minutes to make an hour or two on the river happen. This is probably another post, but it’s amazing how specific to our fishing personalities our gear can be. Things that are my “go to” tool or fly were absent, causing an unease that the trout doubtlessly sensed. But it could be anybody, my dad would surely feel the same if he suddenly tried to dig through my cornicopia of random containers looking for that “confidence fly” of his that i just don’t have. I started to sense that our fly fishing vests, our packs, our slings are extensions of who we are, and none of us are the same, we all have our quirks.

I got skunked for sure that day, but it didn’t really matter. I’d come to Colorado not even expecting to fish, so just being on the water throwing a line felt good, and the fact that my wife helped make it happen on a short trip for family was a wonderful gift that needs no bow. Her love and understanding is the gift. I’m just a lucky so and so.

The following day, before being dropped off at the airport, my father was nice enough to take my son and i to the Denver Fly Fishing Show. It was an interesting experience that truthfully was a little overwhelming, mostly because i had a nine year old son in tow that is much more interested in Lego’s than fishing (no surprise there) and a two hour window before catching a flight (air travel being the one thing that causes me more stress than anything else i can possibly think of).

In that two hours though i managed to hook up with Cameron from www.thefiberglassmanifesto.com and exchange a few shy/nervous words with someone who has been one of the biggest moral boosters and “go to” resources for this site. I know he’s just a guy, but it was ridiculous how nervous i got talking to someone who has figured out how to do what i want to do, “intimidating” is the word that comes to mind.

Minutes later i was heading to the bathroom and saw “The Dude”, Mr. John Gierach passing the time deep in conversation with many a passersby.

“Holy shit!” I remember thinking, as my feet moved on their own accord towards “The Dude”.

My literature heroes runs deep; Robbins, Kerouac, Thompson, Hemingway, etc. so it’s not a light statement to say that my favorite fishing author BY FAR is John Gierach. He’s Jack Kerouac / Joseph Campbell / Zen Buddhists and anti social miscreant all in one.

I’d have loved to have asked for an autograph, posed for a photo with my hero, or solicited my site for his editorial approval, but i feel like this man is my simpatico, and i couldn’t bring myself to do any of that knowing how i’d feel in his shoes. Instead i approached slowly, held out my hand for him to shake and simply said “Thank you for all the words, they mean a lot to me.” before moving on and breaking eye contact with my hero.

Family, fishing, a meeting with a huge influence and a brief handshake with an idol. Three days into the year and already things were happening on a level that left 2013 in the dust.

This will be an amazing year for “die Fische”. Hell, it’s already starting off on the right foot. Enjoy the ride, we sure will.