Out of Bounds

Goals for 2023: Prioritize the New

While the dismal weather the week before Christmas took some of the shine off the holidays, hopefully it foretells a winter of deep snow slowly melting into fabulous trout streams this summer

By Rob Breeding

I just looked back at my New Year’s Resolution column for 2022. Looks like I’m batting about .500. Maybe higher. 

Let’s get the total failure out of the way first — I didn’t lose 10 pounds. I lost 5, then gained them back. At least my record suggests 10 pounds is possible. I’ll give it a go again in 2023.

Now for the triumphs. I promised to stick to televised sports in the winter months and leave ice fishing to hardier souls. Mission accomplished, though to be honest, a mission that requires watching television isn’t much of a mission.

I did get out fly fishing more than previous summers, though my efforts were largely targeted at an oddball species: carp. I caught one, and kind of caught the bug. I plan to expand my pursuit of carp in 2023. 

Carp were a revelation. It turns out chasing a new species renewed my interest in fly fishing, which had grown a little stale. I needed a new challenge and these overgrown goldfish provided just that. While the dismal weather the week before Christmas took some of the shine off the holidays, hopefully it foretells a winter of deep snow slowly melting into fabulous trout streams this summer, when I’ll chase trout with renewed vigor.

I had also planned to ease my old girl Doll into semi-retirement. Actually, it turned out the time had come for my 12-year-old bird dog to move into “full” retirement. 

Earlier this fall I wrote about heading out to bird hunt without Doll for the first time in a decade. I recalled later that that wasn’t exactly true. I started leaving her home last fall when we hunted back-to-back days because she needed more than a night’s rest to recover.

Her absence just hit harder this fall because I knew it was permanent.

Doll did join us on one hunt. She walked beside me for a quarter mile, promptly pointed a covey of quail my young setter Jade had just sprinted past, and then was out of gas. Instead of pursuing that broken-up covey we turned back to the truck, and I wasn’t sure my old girl was going to make it.

But she wheezed and huffed all the way, without needing carried. My back was relieved. She’s a 70-pound dog, after all.

I left Doll in the truck when Jade and I resumed the hunt in an adjoining field. I expected her to pass out on the back seat, but that’s not how English setters are wired. Instead, Doll sat up the entire time, glaring at us out the truck window. She wouldn’t have made it 100 yards if I’d let her out, but she didn’t see it that way.

I’ve left her home since then. I distract her with a little food when I sneak the gun out. She doesn’t seem too bothered when we return, especially if we’ve some pheasant giblets for her to share.

I resolve that in 2023, Doll will remain permanently retired. She has earned this final, couch-surfing and giblet-eating phase of her life.

The carp-inspired fly fishing resurgence will require more attention in 2023. I’ve got one daughter in Colorado and another in Oregon. They can expect visits from their dad in 2023, visits strategically timed to coincide with the best fishing of spring and early summer. 

Denver is kind of the epicenter of the slightly deranged carp fly fishing universe and the South Platte is a carp hot spot. River carp may be my next obsession.

Oregon has steelhead, coastal cutthroats and sturgeon. All three will be new species for me. 

And finally, for Jade and I, it will be time to focus on some new birds, for her at least. Scaled quail and chukars will teach her new tricks. 

I hope Doll will learn to relax in the truck until we get back.

Rob Breeding’s website is www.mthookandbullet.com.

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