On the surface, news that anglers could fish the state’s open waters for an extra week this year seemed to be cause for celebration.
I got the news last Thursday and hurriedly began making plans for a Friday road trip to my favorite opening-day fishing spot, Grand Lake Stream.
It would be great, I thought.
It would be a moment to remember. It would be downright historic. Heck, I might even catch a fish or two.
We’d stop at the Pine Tree Store and order monstrous sandwiches and drink free coffee, an opening day tradition. We’d sit at the Liar’s Bench and laugh as the proprietor, Kurt Cressey, told us funny stories about foolish early-season anglers like us.
Sooner or later, a new angler would walk in.
“Tell you some lies? Sell you some flies?” Cressey would say with a grin. Just like he always does.
It would be opening day, a day late (since the new law was passed Thursday, and anglers were allowed to begin fishing immediately). And we wouldn’t miss it.
Then the first ripples appeared on the surface of my otherwise enjoyable celebration.
“You know it’s going to be freezing tomorrow, right?” Fishing Buddy said. “And windy.”
Of course, that wouldn’t stop us. We’re tough Mainers. We can handle adversity.
Or maybe we aren’t. And maybe we can’t.
Fishing Buddy hemmed a bit. He hawed a bit. Then he let slip the fact that he had no interest in freezing his flies off, and didn’t plan on spending Friday morning waist-deep in a 34-degree stream, cultivating a nifty set of foot-cicles.
Fishing Buddy was out.
But me? I was in. Way in.
This was, after all, a gift from the legislature and the governor! It was a gift from the fishing gods! It was cause for a makeshift opening day celebration.
And make no mistake, I was going to celebrate.
Or so I thought.
As it turns out, I wasn’t nearly as ready to celebrate as I originally thought.
After heading home for the evening, I began gathering up fishing gear that I hadn’t used for months.
Make that: I began trying to gather up fishing gear that I had haphazardly stored months earlier.
The fly rod I wanted to use was easy: It was in the cellar, right next to the freezer.
The net? Hmm. Still haven’t found it.
I found a reel under my bed. Don’t ask. I won’t tell. (And honestly, I have no idea how it got there. Maybe the dog was practicing his roll casting).
And my waders? Well … I found them last, mostly because I actually stuck them in a bag and put them where they belonged. The problem: At some point over the past several months, I forgot where I thought they belonged when I safely stowed them away.
Flies were another problem. I knew where they were, and I knew what I had tied over the winter. But I had assumed I had another week to whip up another couple dozen that would complete my opening day arsenal.
Darned legislature, I thought. Darned governor, I fumed. It’s their fault I’m not ready for opening day.
Eventually, with gear collected, flies catalogued and waders packed in the truck, I turned in.
I’d sleep well. I’d wake up early. And I’d head to Grand Lake Stream alone, for my very own, memorable, historic opening day. Or “day after opening day.” Whatever.
Sleep well, I didn’t. but at 4:45 a.m., the alarm began chirping, and I grudgingly hauled my carcass out of bed and started to get ready to … well … celebrate.
And then I heard it.
Wind, and ice, whipping against the bedroom window’s glass.
Apparently, Fishing Buddy was right on all counts.
It was freezing. It was windy. It was even sleeting.
The bed looked good. The thought of heading down Route 9 in an ice storm didn’t.
So I did what any tough Mainer who can handle adversity would.
I went back to bed, and decided to blame the government.
The legislature was wrong, you see. The governor was wrong.
Opening day wasn’t last week, no matter what they said. Nope. Not for me.
Opening day is April 1.
And this morning, bright and early, I’m off to Grand Lake Stream.
Yes, the water will be high. Yes, the fish might not cooperate. And yes, I’ll stop at the Pine Tree Store and buy a monstrous sandwich and listen to Kurt Cressey tell me funny stories about fishermen like me. Maybe he’ll even extend his opening day coffee offer for those of us who chickened out last week.
Fishing Buddy has checked the forecast and is coming along. The temperatures are supposed to be in the 60s. My gear has been packed for a week … except for those flies that I never got around to tying.
It sounds like the perfect time for a celebration.
It is, after all, opening day, no matter what the government might say.