After a couple weeks of organizing records, plugging numbers into little boxes, scratching my head from time to time, swearing at software and then checking for software updates, I clicked “send” on my computer and within seconds our tax returns for 2021 were filed.
With a sense of relief, I announced to my wife and to anybody else who might have been listening, “I’m going fishing!”
I’ll note that I am not an anti-tax protester. For the most part, I don’t find tax return preparation to be an impossible task. I’ve always done my own tax returns, though commercial tax preparation software has certainly facilitated the process. As a retired federal employee, I occasionally smile at the memory of one of my former co-workers, now deceased, who’d annually come to work on a Monday grumbling after spending the weekend working on his tax returns, complaining about government and taxes. I’d remind him, “We, who make our living working for the government, are in a poor position to complain about taxes.”
So, with a good weather forecast, the day after sending those tax returns off into the ether, I packed a lunch and fishing gear and loaded Kiri, our Labrador retriever for a road trip to the lower Madison River.
The river and its surroundings look a little different that in some years when there are still snowbanks everywhere. After a mild winter and early spring, the ground is bare and some RVers had already set up camp for the weekend.
Still, there was no problem finding an open spot to park and access the river. After some six months of no fishing, it felt good to be pulling on waders and boots and assembling my 3-weight flyrod. I’d spent the intervening months chasing upland birds and skiing after the close of the hunting season. All good fun, but it was spring and that means fishing.
While the weather forecast called for warm temperatures in the afternoon, the breeze felt chilly as I waded into the river shallows. After an hour of casting and working my way downstream I finally felt a little bump on the line, indicating a fish had at least shown some interest in my fly, even if it didn’t take my imitation bug.
Kiri and I walked back to our access point and declared it to be lunchtime. By this time, several boats, presumably with guides pulling the oars, were working their way down the river and I saw one boat stop where I’d just fished and one of the anglers landed a fish. With the fish duly photographed and released, the guide pulled anchor and resumed their trip down the river. They had gone only about 20 yards when the other angler hooked a fish.
With those encouraging signs, I went back into the water after lunch and, while it didn’t happen right away, a silvery 10–11-inch rainbow trout fell for my beadhead soft-hackled pheasant tail nymph.
A little while later, I felt something else on my line. This time, it felt like I might have hooked bottom, as whatever was on the line wouldn’t budge. Then it started moving. I didn’t know what was there, but it felt a lot bigger than that little rainbow. After a few minutes, I was able to land the fish, a really big mountain whitefish, something around 20 inches. It also looked old, its face looking kind of like an old boxer who’d lost too many fights. I sent the fish on its way and a few minutes later I caught another whitefish, though this one was much smaller; more like the whitefish I usually catch.
All too soon, it was time to wrap things up and go home. As I pulled off waders and put gear away, I reflected on the outing. It seemed that, overall, the fishing was pretty slow, but I did manage to catch three fish, and for late March, I call that a successful outing.
Taxes were done and I’d caught some fish. A successful week.
Paul Vang’s new book, “Golden Years, Golden Hours,” is available at How Novel, The Second Edition, Isle of Books & Books, or online at http://writingoutdoors.com.