Southwest Region Fish Camp!

Southwest Region Fish Camp!
As our team continues to grow there is an ever present aura exuding from the hearts of our compatriots. With every chat thread, blog post, member meet up, and expo contingent the collective pulse grows stronger. The Southwest fish camp is no exception. Formerly acquainted members gathered to reminisce of gatherings past and belay the woes endured between meet-ups and the grinding dredge of the week leading to the very moment they crossed the threshold from the mundane doldrums into the red dirt, granite, asmr riddled haven that is the Blue River Public Hunting and Fishing Area. Newly arrived members, to the region, made the six hour trek after less than a week of freshly inhabiting the region and in true HLE/FLE fashion, it was as if they had been kindred to us all for years prior. 

Morning one served a slab of nostalgia with a side of trout limit stew for those who were willing to burn vacation time or just ignore responsibility altogether. As more companions arrived and the local pizza buffet was decimated, the weekend had launched and we all settled for the haul.  The local weather forecast uncharacteristically came to fruition, but the rain and cold breeze did not deter the fireside chat nor the circumnavigation of the brown water around the pit, across our lips and into the gullet. In fact, it only primed our souls for the fellowship ahead.

Day two would arrive at the behest of day break to shake off the prior evening wet, kindle the morning flame and set about nourishing the mind, body and soul. The mind was served doses of perspective, movie quotes and anecdotal euphemism. The body gained replenishment with a breakfast of venison burgers, that hadn’t thawed for dinner, and camp percolated coffee sweetened with Irish cream and only the finest Cambodian breast milk.(Forest, don’t forget your culture) The wind did not much care about our desire to cast a fly and so the soul service began. Persistence and patience were key and this group carries enough in their waders for 3 lifetimes. We busted brush, knees and trails and barometric pressure be damned, we landed fish. Arriving back at camp, we were greeted with afternoon sliders, a veritable shark-a-smoochie board of veggies and cheese and dinner prep underway by the Mrs. Stark and it all came together with a team     effort. Indian tacos were on the dinner menu and were shared with neighbors in true Southern fashion. The evening called to slow the pace and soul restoration was at hand. A team member needs us. We are here. She fights the battle none are prepared for and a great few brandish shield and lance as brave as she. A medicine is administered at a predetermined time, electronically, with unknown effect. A plan is set, if extraction is needed. We wait. Time passes. Campfire banter remains in the air. As if working with a collective hive mind nonverbal check-in’s are exchanged with glances across the fire and down at watches with nods and winks of affirmation. The warrior emerges unscathed in high spirit and the worriers go to bed. The swell of pride after that night is immeasurable, incalculable, inexplicable. Soul Food.

On the third day we rose with cooler temps and a disdain for what the day held. Good-bye’s. Camp slowly meandered to pack away and prepare for the day's journey and a few farewell hugs exchanged with reluctance to succumb to the inevitable. But, not all is solemn. The day delivered great triumph. Some made the decision to stave off the inevitable for a few short hours and the decision proved lucrative. We bypassed the honey-holes and went to where real work and passion are needed. Narrow, shallow channels holding fish that could see your every move and you theirs make for a superb challenge. Though limits were had and even more fish caught and released the tale of the day is of one fishers stubborn tenacity. She had put in work since the last fish camp and had managed to work out a cast that didn’t produce pandora’s wind knots. She worked the entirety of the prior camp and the current as well with no success, but determination is a super power. Heeding instruction and digging deep into her pride, Savannah Kirk brought to hand not only her first fish on the fly but arguably the biggest of the camp. Well done LT.

Southwest fish camp is now a staple for us and I, personally, could not be more proud to have been able to facilitate these incredible humans. Disclaimer, there are a lot of inside jokes written here so if you want clarification you'll have to ask. It has been said and I will continue in kind, that there is certainly something special cooking in the HLE/FLE skillet and it ain’t just taters.  

"Much Love Sisters and Brethren." -Poppa Stark


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