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Healing on the Burnt

by Inconnu


The first time I saw the Burnt River, was early Spring of 1997. Our family outing that weekend had lead us down several roads I was unfamiliar with, as we explored the countryside 150 miles from home.

Early afternoon found our vehicle stopped on an old logging bridge, as I stared at the clear fast waters of what could only be the Burnt River. I fell in love yet another time in my life (oh fickle me!). Fate and misfortune did not allow me back to fish the small stream waters of the Burnt that year, but it was always in my thoughts as the months went by. Time seems to pass so much quicker as I get older and the season ended far too soon, so I had to wait.

The following year, opening day found me lying in a hospital bed, full of drugs, needles and in no small amount of discomfort. Finally though, I was able to get out of bed and walk, or rather pace the halls, as I waited for for my health to improve enough, that they would discharge me.

Finally, that day came and though not totally well and feeling rather weak and lethargic I was brought home to recuperate. I could not see myself staying home for weeks, staring out the window, so I made plans to escape the watchful eyes of my family members for a day of flyfishing. Escaping however, involved some heavy negotiations and the promise to go with my fishing partner, so there would be someone to at least report the whereabouts of my body should I expire.

Late morning several days later, found Harris and myself surveying a stretch of the Burnt above the bridge. I could see no rise forms on the pool below, but a few errant caddis fluttered about, so I had hope.

My partner elected to go off upstream around a bend and leave me by the bridge pool. This was fine by me, I still wasn't up to a lot of walking and really didn't feel well, still I was here and not about to let the opportunity slip by. I made my way carefully down to the pool, picking my way between boulders and some old timbers, probably the remains of an older bridge. Finally, exhausted, I stood at the edge of the Burnt!

The pool was probably 100 feet wide by 150 feet long. You could see the individual stones on the bottom, the water was so clear. The top end of the pool was fed by three different currants coming from different channels cut through solid rock. The three channels emptied in close together on the west side of the pool where I stood. The main currant passed 10 feet from me.

As I stood admiring the beauty of my surroundings and watching for signs of feeding Grayling, I was overcome by a sudden feeling of weakness. Quickly I found a rock to sit on and waited for the feeling to pass. I wondered if I should even be here. Closing my eyes I felt the sun on my face, heard the sound of the stream, It had intensified slightly when I had closed my eyes. I listened, felt, breathed. I am not sure why I did what I did next, was it a voice? An urge or impulse sent to me? I stood and opened my eyes, staring once more into the pool and took a step towards it, then another and I was suddenly lowering myself into the waters. I felt the coolness of the Burnt, even through my neoprene waders. I sat with the water flowing around my chest, felt the coolness washing over my body, it felt good! I suddenly realized I was feeling stronger, the pain was leaving me as if the current was giving me its' strength and flushing away my weakness. I was overcome by a sudden sense of well-being. The sun was suddenly brighter, warmer, the birds louder, my head cleared.

"All I need now are some fish." I said aloud.

Out of the corner of my eye I caught a motion, turning my head I watched intently for a few very long seconds. There it was again! A dimple on the surface! Almost unconsciously I sent my Mylar Spinner to the exact spot it needed to be (proof again of divine intervention). There it sat for a short second, then disappeared in a swirl of water. I lifted the rod gently, felt the resistance of a fish and then it took my line as it returned to the bottom of the pool. We fought for several minutes before the huge Grayling came to me and for another few seconds I admired the 23 inch fish as I cradled it in the water, it finally gave a slow flick of its' tail and returned to the bottom of the pool. My hands were shaking, but not from any feeling of weakness, more from the excitement of the fish and the shear joy of being there. I wondered aloud, if the big fish had a brother, the thought no sooner out of my mouth than my fly was winging its' way to another rise. A perfect day, about to get even better.