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Friday, December 21, 2012

The Last Taste

If I’m eating hot dogs for dinner, well then it’s a no brainer; the last mouthful has hot dog and bun in it and that will be the last taste. 

If steak (which we hardly ever eat) is accompanied by beans from the garden, rice pilaf, salad, and bread, then there are a lot of choices for the last taste.  More often than not I choose the bread. 

Even if we have stew for dinner there is still at least some choice as to what the last taste will be.  Do I save a solitary chunk of meat for the last bite?  How about a potato? Some carrot maybe?  A piece of celery perhaps?  Some of everything is too much.  Two items maybe, but not all four.  I prefer to have just one or two things be the last taste and I like to choose. 

As much as I like chocolate and as much as I like dessert of almost any kind, sometimes I won’t eat dessert because I don’t want to change the last taste from dinner.  Sometimes even when I am craving dessert I won’t eat it because I want the memory of the last taste from dinner more than I want dessert. 

Call it one of my sundry idiosyncrasies, call it ridiculous, call it whatever you want; I choose the last taste when I eat. 

I like to choose the last taste when I am fishing too.  Ideally, just at the time I am ready to call it a day I catch a whopper of a fish.  The take is perfect, the hookset engenders an acrobatic leap (from the fish not from me) the fish runs deep into the backing, she is fat and beautiful when cradled in the net.  After posing for a few quick pictures she returns to the river to tell her friends to be careful of the Carp Carrot.  The whole thing is a perfect last taste.

Like eating dinner, ideally I would like to pick the last taste for every Carp trip and I would like to choose the last taste on the final session of the season.  A large, tailing fish turns to the side to pick up the fly.  I set the hook and he is ripping out line.  I release him and end the season with that perfect memory.  Wouldn't that be nice?  Or would it? 
In the middle of the summer when the sun is high in the sky, the wind has diminished, and the Carp are actively feeding in the flats, I think that I only want to fish for Carp the whole darn year.   It seems like such a good idea in July.  I can’t do it though.  Eventually cold weather, poor visibility, and vacant flats, keep me from it.  It is more than that though.  If I fished for Carp for the whole year the season would have no last taste.  I don’t just want there to be a last taste, I need there to be a last taste for the Carp season.  It truly is better that way.  Then I can savor the process of remembering past trips and daydreaming about future trips. 

Fishing isn’t really like eating; it’s more like life.  I can choose the last taste of dinner but so often I can’t choose the last tastes in life. I don’t get to choose the weather in life or in fishing.  I don’t get to choose the “when” or the “how” of every goodbye.     

When it is “goodbye for now” I choose the last thing I say.  What about when it is “goodbye for good”?  Sometimes I don’t know when “goodbye for good” is.  Or when it was.  That can be simply disappointing or it can be painfully life changing.  Not being able to choose all of the goodbyes makes the “hellos” better; the ones I choose and the serendipitous ones.

So much of the time fishing is more like life than it is like dinner; I don’t get to choose how things go. 

Fishing for two days this past September, I made my last Carp trip of the season.  I had decided in advance that no matter how good or bad the fishing was, this trip would be the last taste for 2012.  I like choosing and savoring the last taste.  It gives me the feeling that I am in control probably more often than I really am. 

The sun was low in the sky.  Even with no devil clouds to be seen, spotting Carp was much more difficult than it had been in July.  The sun bounced off the lake all day.  Clear, calm water necessitated small flies.  While few and far between, tailing fish were still present.  Lightly weighted, size 12 Carp Carrots made some Carp happy.  Happy that is, until I set the hook.   Thursday, the first day of fishing, was quite satisfying; it really made me savor the anticipation of the second helping on Friday. 

Making the first cast to a tailing fish on Friday I was already thinking about how the day would finish.  I wanted to catch a fish on the last cast; I wanted to choose the last taste.  Like a transition in a video I wanted the summer to fade to fall with a take on the last cast.  Out loud, I wanted to actually say, “Goodbye and thank you” to that last Carp.  I wanted my winter fly tying day dreams to include that fish. 

Catching a Carp on the last cast of the season is really only going to happen if I catch a fish and then choose to stop at that moment.  In a way it is like choosing to not have dessert; I want the memory of the last taste of dinner more than I want the chocolate cake. 

Nearing what would be the end of the day I made casts to a couple cruisers; they did not take the small Carrot.  I suppose they could have recognized it as a fake but I chose to assume they weren’t hungry.  I was actually heading back to my Carpwagon when another cruising fish came into view.  I stripped out line and made a single cast.  This Carp apparently was hungry since he moved right to the Carrot.  God bless him!

I wanted a take to be my last taste for the session and my last taste for the 2012 season.  After releasing the Carp I clipped the fly off and broke down the rod; I chose to end my season with that fish.  It was one of the smallest Carp I caught the whole summer; a small bite for the last taste.  I said, “thank you” and “goodbye” to the fish and took a video of it. 

Today is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year.  It has been pouring rain for days.  A main arterial near my home has been closed because it has flooding water over it.  I worked today.  I smiled today.  I listened to Christmas music and I listened to Artie Shaw.  On this shortest of days I savor that last taste of the 2012 Carp season; that last taste that I was so fortunate to get to choose. 


  1. It's like saying if you could fish with just one fly?
    I like the seasons change in fishing. Trout, Carp, then Pike. If I had to pick just one?

  2. Mr.P,

    You have more discipline than I. I must at least try to tatse carp all winter, a dozen fishless trips are OK with me, it best be as that's mostly the case.