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Before First Light

3:30 AM – The alarm goes off.

3:33 AM – The alarm goes off again. You remember that you don’t have to go to work, but that you get to go fishing. This gives you a performance-enhanced level of energy compared to every other morning, and you get up.

3:40 AM – Getting dressed quietly (as was part of the deal), you convince yourself you won’t need that extra layer. You’re always hot in the afternoon, anyway.

3:41 AM – Opening the garage door, you discover that you do need that extra layer. Your foolish indecision has cost you valuable seconds.

3:45 AM – On the road. Mellow music and the heat are on. You’ve already seen 4 deer, and begin to go through a strategy for when you might encounter one. Slam the brakes? Swerve into the other lane? You think someone told you once that you’re supposed to aim with the corner of your front bumper…

4:00 AM – The fast food place you usually go to is closed. A gross miscalculation. Coffee is essential, but if you don’t hit up a drive through the extra time spent parking, getting out of the car, etc. will definitely allow someone else to get on the water first.

4:30 AM – A sudden panic that you forgot your reel hits you. You should have packed your gear last night, not in the stupor of a coffee-less early morning rush. Ooh… coffee. But you can’t pull over. You’ll just buy a new reel and line at the shop by the stream. It would be cheaper than turning around. Plus, that reel was old.

5:00 AM – Somehow you survived this long without coffee. The stress of no caffeine was compounded by the occasional sprinkle on the windshield. The horror of rain on the only day you could get away fishing was all consuming. The forecast saying there is a 0% chance of precipitation does nothing to assuage your fears. But there is a McDonald’s at the next exit.

5:10 AM – That was way too much, and way too greasy. Always a dangerous move when waders will be worn for the next 8 hours. You suppress a burp.

5:30 AM – You get off the highway, and are driving way too fast on a dimly-lit secondary road paralleling the river. Even though it is still mostly dark and you’re whizzing by at 50 miles per hour, you’re convinced how good the water looks this morning. There aren’t any bugs in your headlights. No dries, today. Stink. Well, maybe you’ll fish an attractor anyway.

5:45 AM – There is someone else in the parking lot. What was the point of waking up this early?!?

5:56 AM – You nonchalantly peek into the other car. Trail maps and no rod tube. Should be a hiker. Phew.

5:57 AM – You did pack the reel! Great – it’s your favorite.

5:58 AM – Gearing up in the cold always takes way too long. Gloves go on, but then the rod has to be rigged up with more dexterity. Pants get bunched up. Gloves have to come back off. Make sure that you have keys and phone, Double check that the car is locked. You never know who will peek into cars.

6:05 AM – You forgot to relieve yourself.

6:15 AM – Waders back on, you walk down to the water. The sun is just starting to come through the trees. Most people aren’t up yet, but you’re exactly where you want to be. This feeling is almost worth it. The cool air, the pristine sounds of the stream, and that smell of the woods in the morning. A fish would be nice, but at this moment this is enough.