You know how it goes: you're 3 days into a 4 day fishing trip and already you're dreading the trip coming to an end. Getting away, being in a beautiful place, doing something you love isn't often something you're eager to put behind you. Not only are you dreading the current trip coming to a resolution, you're probably standing there, feet in river, planning your next trip in between casts. This is typical. It's something that almost every one of us who considers fishing a passion can relate to. On certain rare occasions, however, the best part of a fishing trip isn't the biggest fish that came to hand, or the time spent catching up with friends, and it most certainly isn't the whiskey hangover you spent the second morning of the trip enjoying. Sometimes, the best part of a fishing trip is the drive home.
Now, I know I'm not supposed to say this. If you read a healthy variety of fly fishing publications these days, you've likely come under the impression that the true die-hard breed of fly fisherman spends every waking minute on the water. If you consider yourself a die-hard fisherman as well, then you best not talk about not fishing or otherwise performing fishing related activities. Not ever. The ecstasy of being on a river, rod in hand, is at all times so overwhelming that the very thought of leaving is preposterous. True die-hard fly fisherman have tales of glory to share, tales of steely reserve that allows them to be on the water in the most inhospitable conditions without experiencing a moment of displeasure. This modern, agro fly fishing denizen fishes in Alaska in sub-zero temperatures while simultaneously being dispatched by his 14th wife and/or girlfriend and while grizzly bears maul and consume his children. Stopping. Fishing. Can. Not. Happen.
I'm not that guy, and frankly, I don't care to pretend I am. That said, fishing is a stupidly large part of my life. I'm regularly ridiculed by those who don't share my sentiment for this fact. Still, the truth remains that, sometimes, the best part of a fishing trip is the end of it.
It's not a matter of whether the fishing is good or bad. Sometimes, enough is enough. Sometimes, 12 hour days add up. Maybe your arm is sore from catching so many fish. Or, perhaps the river was giving up fish like they were kittens until you showed up, and then the bite shut off for three straight days. Maybe you're sick of tying knots with prune fingers in 34 degree weather while mono cuts your fucking hands apart. Maybe you really need to stop smoking so many goddamned cigarettes when you're on the river. The point is, not all fishing trips are perfect. If we're all being honest, none of them are.
When a trip goes this way, the feeling of finally getting your mountain of gear packed away and settling into your truck for the drive home can be a very welcome one. These are the trips when you're lucky if you traveled alone. If that's the case, you'll have a long ride ahead of you with no companion to make you think or talk about the trip unless you want to. No one to keep bringing up that "one tug" that you both know was really a leaf. No one to prevent you from blasting 80's synth pop for 2 straight hours.
The drive passes without consequence, and that's a good thing. You get lost in your own thoughts for a few hours, or more, and then arrive home to whatever awaits. Maybe it's family, maybe it's a hot meal, maybe it's simply the joy of a quiet house and the familiarity of your own surroundings. The comfort of an honest hot shower awaits upstairs and afterwards, you finally settle down on the couch to breathe a sigh of relief and soak in the joys of being home.
Within minutes, the reality sets in that tomorrow won't be a day spent on the river. Seconds later, the aforementioned imperfections of the fishing trip worth ending are lost on you.