Thursday, April 27, 2017

Three Reasons Why: The Early 2017 Fly-Fishing Drought

Riddle me this: How can rain lead to drought? Answer: When it screws up my planned weekend of fly-fishing. The trout season in Missouri has been going on for nearly two months, and I still have not been fishing yet this season. I had planned on going this weekend (destination unknown) but Mother Nature has not been cooperating, and mid-Missouri has been slammed with with rain and thunderstorms. A projected six inches of rain is expected by Sunday, which is when I had planned on escaping to the stream. By then, most river banks will be flooded and the water will resemble something between old Miller Light and chocolate milk. However, I am chomping at the bit to go fishing. I'm told beggars cannot be choosers, so there's still a good chance I might be standing out in the rain on Sunday hoping like hell the trout have x-ray vision and will be able to see my flies through the muck.

The last time I went fly-fishing was back in February, for catch-and-release season, so I am extremely fortunate that I consider a few months without fishing "a drought." To be honest, fly-fishing has not been a priority in my life for the past few months. There's a multitude of reasons why, ranging from spectacular to mundane to plain old shitty, but I will whittle them down to the Big Three (in order from shitty to spectacular).

Reason #1: My dad got a nasty bit of cancer.
So I'm not going to go into this one too much, as I'm not a huge fan of over-sharing online, but my dad, Al, had a lump pop up on his ankle after Christmas that turned out to be a nasty high-grade sarcoma tumor. Luckily the tumor was not in the bone of his ankle, nor did it metastasize anywhere else in his body. The cancer appeared very quickly and was incredibly aggressive, but they caught it early enough to keep it local to his ankle. However, following a couple of surgeries, he did have to have his lower right leg amputated to ensure all of the cancer was removed, and he will start a preventative chemo treatment beginning next week.

The entire situation was obviously very scary and emotionally taxing, and please don't misinterpret this as me complaining I can't go fishing because my dad got cancer and lost his leg. The Voss family is incredibly blessed with the speed and skill that my dad was treated and lucky the tumor only appeared somewhere treatable like his ankle, and not somewhere fatal like his lungs. It was amazing how quickly the situation unfolded. One day my dad is showing my physician brother his ankle, because he thought it was swollen or sprained, and within a few weeks he had a biopsy, initial surgery, and amputation. I found myself dropping the entire bombshell of the story, beginning to end, on close friends after the fact, not because I was keeping it from them, but simply because I hadn't seen them since the whole situation transpired.

As bad as all of that sounds, the man is still in good spirits. He can still cut grass on his riding mower, he has learned how to drive his truck with his left foot, and he has even returned to his Wednesday night pub trivia league. He'll have his prosthetic leg soon and once this crappy summer of chemo is complete, his and my mom's lives should return to a state of relative normalcy.

Not even cancer can keep my dad off of his side-by-side.
Reason #2: I got a new job.
This reason is a little bit more mundane but a lot less depressing. A few weeks back, I switched roles in my company and now work in the Legal Department. My days as a Proposal Manager are done, and now when people ask what I do, I can simply say that I work in Legal and not have to explain why I went to law school in the first place. It's very, very nice, and it's a professional goal I've been working towards for a few years. I am embarrassingly in love with the company I work for, and they deserve all of the press they receive for being a Great Place to Work. I won't say their name, as I don't want a fly-fishing blog to show up in their google results, but it doesn't take an internet Sherlock Holmes to track down which company I work for. I am very happy in my new position, and the work itself is a lot more intellectually challenging than answering RFPs. It is a fresh change of pace to be challenged at work and to use the skill-sets that I went into student loan debt to achieve. However, as with any new job, I'm still learning and training, and as a part of that, it is a bit more difficult to randomly take a Friday off to go on a weekend fishing trip. Still, it was the right choice for my career, and eventually I'll be skipping Fridays in the future to go fly-fishing. Or not, actually, depending on Reason #3.

Reason #3: We're having a baby!
Come this August, Emily and I will be raising the next generation of VossFish, as we welcome our baby son to the Earth. Emily is almost done with her second trimester now, and we're busy getting everything ready, including painting and decorating our nursery, and spending an entire f***ing Saturday getting that damn ceiling fan installed without wobbling. I am obviously very excited and appropriately terrified to become a parent and unsurprisingly, fly-fishing has taken a back seat in my life for the past few months during Emily's pregnancy. But hey, I'm sure once we have a newborn, I'll have all the time in the world to go fishing.

That's not a maternity shirt. It's just one of my shirts.
In all honestly, this whole having-a-baby-becoming-a-father-changing-my-entire-life-thing is a long-con. Whereas Baby Voss might be screwing up my end-of-year fishing this year, having a son guarantees me a lifetime of future father-son fishing trips. All I really need to do is to add one of those baby chest cradle things to the registry and make sure I don't snag him with a wayward cast. If all goes according to plan, Baby Voss and I could hitting the stream together as soon as, what, September? You have to get them started early.

So to summarize, I'm a very lucky son-of-a-gun, but my life got a little bit more complicated recently, and it's about to get even more bonkers in the future. So know that if I disappear for a while, don't be discouraged. I'll be back eventually with more harrowing tails of catching trout on a fly. It might not be as frequent, but think of the high-quality fatherly wisdom I'll have to impose on the readers. It's sure to go viral. The ad revenue alone should pay for this kid's college. Until then.

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