Do you know the pale morning dun? It’s a mayfly. About this big. Trout go crazy for them. A few years ago I went camping on a lake in the southern Sierras, I’d gone out for a couple weeks by myself with a twenty pound bag of rice, only. One afternoon I’m working a shore and an old timer works towards me and asks what I’m using and I show him a pale morning dun. He says it won’t work and he says because lakes here talk. And he said: the fish in the lakes talk to each other. Through the streams like wires? I asked. The air, the old man says. Fields, roots. I dunno. They talk. Man can’t fish one drainage without causing another to get wise. So a couple days later I see a guy about twenty and ask whether the fish talk through the lakes. He laughed and said his grandfather knew they did. Used that word.
I got cozy in my sleeping bag that night, the rice turning inside me, and dreamed about pool, the game. The balls were clacking and someone in the corner of the room was reading their diary to my sister. I don’t know who they were nor what the entry was on about but each time I struck the cue the fella glared and warned. That’s what he said. I warn you. All he said. I warn you. (And I started saying warn until the word lost meaning.)
Week later I’m fishing an inside-out piece of pocketwater, I couldn’t get the mends right and my line was leaving big shameful loops in the topwater. A kerchunk, and a little boy had hurled a stone into the center of the riffles, over my head it had sailed, and I asked whether this pool was worth fishing at all. I’d hauled twenty pounds of rice, after all. There were mountains. I’d set a tent. The rain. A big cut across the back of my hand from some muttering branch, and the kid told me oh yeah, just have to get the fly way down the throat with a bunch of lead, and really let it sit there, a pale morning dun, caddis, grasshopper, ant, worm, midge, doesn’t matter, just get below the rocks where they earth goes lead and none of the signal gets in.