Sunday, February 13, 2011

Dream Streams

In this winter of our discontent I sadly find myself visiting rivers only in my dreams. These nocturnal visits to favored locations of my subconscious have been going on for years. But this winter they’ve provided more solace than in the past.

The tributaries to Lake Erie that are my home waters have mostly been locked up with ice since mid-December. I’ve moved well beyond the symptoms of cabin fever. With no southern fishing trips on the horizon all I can look forward to is the promised thaw and the dreams of rivers never fished -- and never to be fished.

I generally fish -- or at least visit -- three dream streams. All conjure up memories of past fishing spots, but none is real. They are verdant and fish-filled. The weather is always good; nonetheless I don’t recall ever catching a fish in them. Sometimes even our dreams reflect real life.

One of the streams flows narrow and fast through a green meadow on its way to Lake Superior. It is about as far from a North Shore stream as one can imagine, but in my dreams it cuts through the Sawtooth Mountains and is visited by both steelhead and wise anglers. It is always crowded with anglers assuring me that I should have been here yesterday.

The second stream meanders through a grassy opening in a hardwood forest. It reminds a little of a stretch on the Brule River in northern Wisconsin. That river will always be my true river of dreams, as it is where I first caught trout on dry flies and landed wild, albeit transplanted, steelies. The dream stretch is home to rising trout. It is accessible by a dirt road, but for some reason I neglect to visit this stretch until it is nearly dark.

The third stream is a cross between Big Fishing Creek and Penns Creek in Central Pennsylvania. A wide, swift stream it rushes over big boulders and past beautiful rustic homes. I’ve spent some time on the deck of one of those homes, and in my dreams I’ve even walked down to the river. But I’ve never made a false cast, let alone pulled a fish from its clear waters.

I’m sure Freud and others could tell me what’s behind some of these angling dreams. But their meaning is irrelevant. For now, they provide a respite from a long, ice-filled winter. I know that soon the ice will be pulling away from the banks and heading downstream. But for now I will have to be satisfied with my dream streams.

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