American essayist and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson once advised, “Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience.” Now I’m not sure, but I bet he dreamed up that one after a long—and likely unsuccessful—day of fishing.
Regardless of the inspiration, there is wisdom in those words for nothing makes you slow down, reflect and persevere quite like the sport of fishing. And for me, there are few places I’d rather be than on the water with a fishing rod in my hands and the sun at my back.
Fishing is especially enjoyable when you can share it with a good friend, which is why I called Danny a few weeks ago and asked him to join me on a fly-fishing expedition on the Colorado River. I was going to be in Las Vegas attending the National Hardware Show and decided to extend my trip to include a day of fishing in Marble Canyon, Arizona. I had even hired a guide to take me upriver.
Danny, who’s always up for an adventure, immediately booked a flight to Vegas, and I picked him up at the airport in a cobalt-blue Mustang convertible. The adventure was on!
The five-hour drive from Las Vegas up to Marble Canyon winds its way through some of the prettiest, most breathtaking scenery imaginable, including high desert, huge expanses of ranchland, immense mesas, and skyscraping red-rock bluffs. Our top-down, wind-through-what’s-left-of-our hair trip took us from Nevada, through northwestern Arizona, into Utah, and then back down into north central Arizona. Along the way we passed through National forests and Indian reservations, and discovered that you can go at least 118 mph in a Mustang (Can you guess who was driving?).
We eventually passed through Jacob Lake, Arizona, (elevation: 8,000 ft.) before dropping down into tiny Marble Canyon, which is little more than a dusty settlement along a windswept, sandblasted stretch of Alternate Route 89. Danny and I spent the night at the lovely Marble Canyon Lodge, a no-frills refuge that caters to visiting anglers, rafters, hikers, and other outdoor enthusiasts who flock to the area.
At 7:00 the next morning, we met our fishing guide, Rocky from Marble Canyon Outfitters. We hopped into our Mustang and followed Rocky for the short drive down through the canyon to his waiting boat on the Colorado River.
As we clambered into our chest-high waders, Rocky steered the aluminum vessel upriver, passing through majestic canyon walls rising 1,000 feet on either side. It was an amazing way to start the day, and one of the most awe-inspiring, stunningly beautiful landscapes I had ever seen.
In less than 20 minutes, Rocky pulled ashore along a gravely beach, and Danny and I hopped out into the crystal-clear waters of the Colorado River. Just to our north we could see the colossal Glen Canyon Dam, straddling the canyon and—more importantly—holding back Lake Powell. It was easy to feel insignificant, standing there at the bottom of that canyon, but Danny and I had come to fish, so we grabbed our fly rods and waded out into the rushing river. . . .
Now, Danny and I had fished together before, and had always been pretty successful, but catching fish isn’t essential when fishing with a buddy. Sure, it’s always nice to land a few trophy fish, but what makes these trips memorable is the time spent together on the water. Danny and I are both pretty busy guys, so fishing gives us time to relax, recharge, laugh, goof around and casually talk about everything from family life and current events to dream vacations and favorite books. And yes, occasionally we’ll discuss fishing.
Near the end of the day, as the sun slowly sank behind the tall canyon walls, Danny and I both agreed that we were lucky to be married to women who supported and encouraged us to take fishing trips together. They must know that we are better men for it (In fact, now that I think of it, my wife, Marla, was almost too supportive. “Are you sure you don’t want to stay an extra day or week. . . .).
I guess I’d be remiss if I failed to mention that Rocky, displaying saintly patience and gritty persistence, put us on some fish that day. And despite less-than-ideal conditions, such as an unrelenting 30-to-50 mph wind, Danny and I hooked into several beautiful rainbow trout, and even managed to land quite a few, including the stunning 19-incher shown above.
The long ride back to Vegas that evening was uneventful, and we were silent much of the time; both of us reflecting on our day, and trying to process the rapidly approaching back-to-work week. Within a few short hours, Danny would be boarding a flight for Alabama, and I’d be heading back to Connecticut. But time and distance can do little to dampen a true friendship, and it’s only a matter of time until we start thinking about our next fishing adventure.