As the saying goes, I wish I had a dollar for every hour I’ve spent sitting on the banks of a stream or river somewhere casting a line out in hopes of catching fish.
I am not a rich man, so I guess the payoff there has been in the pleasure of the process.
Over the years I have also spent a fair amount of time sitting at the edge of a stream panning for gold, washing pan after pan in hopes of spotting that ever elusive flash of colour at the bottom of the pan.
Fishing and panning have a number of things in common. Both can be peaceful, satisfying, exciting, annoying, frustrating and hard on the back. Sometimes you are rewarded with a few flakes of gold, other times with a glint of silver in the water as a bright shiny rainbow trout comes up to sip in your fly. For me, when I get a small flake in the bottom of my pan, it’s the same thing as getting a two pound rainbow trout on my line.
A few weeks ago I was working a stretch of the Shuswap River near Cherryville where I have a claim. I was digging at the base of a large rock right on the water line when I came up with a tiny little clinker. Things were looking promising. The problem was that water began to seep in faster than I could dig and in the end all I had to show for my labour was that one flake. Sometimes you find gold, sometimes you don’t.
I was looking around for a new spot to start digging when my eye caught a momentary flash of colour in the pool just upstream of where I’d been panning. Colour is colour I thought to myself, so I made my way to the vehicle to dig out a four-piece fly rod that I always keep in the back. These days when I go stream fishing, I always take a gold pan with me, and when I go panning for gold I take a fishing rod. The way I figure it, I am bound to come home with something.
The only real difference between catching fish and finding gold is the fact that I usually release the fish I catch but I never, ever put back the gold I find.