From the gravel road we walk up along the ridge and descend into the canyon. The sliver of moon is bright enough so that we don’t need headlamps. If you happened to read my book, Trout Porn, you know that we roll commando-early, and that we go anywhere. Colorado has funny laws when it comes to private property, though. It breaks down like this: landowners can own the bed of a stream, but not the water. That makes it legal to float the stream, but not legal to touch anything except river. Brush up against a stone and it’s TRASSpassing. What a lot of these rich cunts do is lay a cable or wire net across the river to make it difficult or impossible to even raft the free water. Touching one of their cables is the same as touching stone – TRASSpassing.
This particular private stretch belongs to a fishcamp. Members pay whatever the fee is to join the club. The boys tell all sorts of stories about this place, and it’s fun to chase rumors. They say the trout are genetically modified. Sterile triploids that put all their energy into growing big instead of spawn-fucking. Hybridized steelhead that hit ten pounds in their first year. Who knows? There are rumors, too, about the pellets they feed the fish inside the wire being specially formulated, like ‘roids, to make the hogs grow into obscenities and rage with fury.
Once upon a time the kid in me would have slipped the wire, or even cut it, and wreaked havoc before the light of day. Fuck ‘em. The only thought now is whether or not to bother taking a piss on the other side, just for punkish spite and amusement. I’m 45 now, and I can laugh at the thought of doing something without actually doing it. Fuck ‘em just the same and their private water. If it’s not open to everyone it’s not sporting enough for me to even piss into. Instead we head upriver where we can wreak havoc and not break the chickenshit laws of wealthy landowners and their pissant clubs.
Upriver the fishing is better anyway. Get in close to the dam and the biggest, baddest trout are always going to congregate. Hogs find ways to bust out of the private areas, and upriver they go with whatever might be true about their modified genetic hugeness and overstuffed bellies. They can’t stop you from catching ‘em up here anymore than they could stop you from slipping in undetected down below, and it’s just sweeter playing ‘em where anyone has a fair and equal shot. Trout here grow plenty big on their own accord feasting on whatever comes out of the turbines. Who needs bullshit feed pellets?
And somedays it’s about that one fish … the one your buddy helps you spot in the pale, blue light of dawn that spooks out of the deep pool only to return and play cat-n-mouse for a few rounds past daybreak until the line speeds tight with the weight of her girth before the rod wobbles from the pulse of her headshakes. Sometimes that one turns into more. Later, when I send a text with the pics to my brother who lives far away I don’t even think about the private water, it doesn’t even interest me.