She moved out the week after finding me wearing neoprene waders, in the bathtub, with a length of garden hose snaking out of the waders and into my mouth.

I had an explanation. I was checking for leaks. Using the hose to inflate the waders, while watching for bubbles. Even after a six-month hiatus, the waders created an astonishing tub ring of reconstituted pond scum.

I’ve spent 15 years on Alberta trout streams—some casual, others ardent; sometimes with success and other times frustration. But this year is unique: I have decided to approach it with a plan. This year, I will fish the North Raven River only.

If you could only fish one river, what would it be? The Raven has much to recommend it: It is spring fed, and less subject to the flashy runoff of Alberta’s freestone streams; it offers reasonable access; has no seasonal closures; and profuse insect life. Best of all, biologists tell us that there are trout there in both quantity—1,300 fish per kilometer ― and quality, with brown trout of up to five pounds. 

Lest you want to put this story down immediately, however, to take up your rod, I should warn you that the banks are choked with incredibly dense vegetation, making wading in the stream the only way to fish most of it. The bottom is silty and treacherous. The fish that live there are more than moody; they’re paranoid, and their gene pool has not seen the inside of a hatchery for decades. Over the years, I’ve heard and read enough about the Raven to lure me there three or four times. I believe I’ve caught two fish, after fishing over at least 2,000. I’m picking the Raven precisely because it is the most frustrating trout stream in Alberta. 

My hope is to see more by sharpening my focus, and to learn more, by fishing a stream that refuses to reward dumb luck or random chance. The results of this exercise will be diarized, beginning tomorrow. If, between the first warm days of spring, and the hard frosts of the fall, I do succeed in learning anything, these efforts might even find their way into print. I have no way of predicting my own perseverance. However, if anyone finds himself reading these words, it seems that, from some future perspective, I must have held up my end.

What you get out of it is up to you.

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