There’s a special creek not far from home that beckons to me. An unwary angler could get lost forever as each curve and bend of the creek looks better than the last and tempts you onward. I call it “Siren Creek,” though that is not its real name.
The second time I fished it, I was with my father—my hero and outdoor mentor—on one of our last fishing outings. Earlier that week, Dad called me and asked what I wanted for my upcoming birthday and I quickly responded, “For you to go fishing with me!” Dad agreed and we planned to fish the next Saturday.
Unfortunately, it rained hard that day. Dad and I fished numerous creeks and the fish did not cooperate. By the time we finally made it to Siren Creek (our last stop of the day), Dad wasn’t feeling well and stayed near the truck. Right off the bat, he caught one cutthroat. I was glad to see that he didn’t get skunked.
Under the circumstances, I fished only a small section of the creek. The further upstream I hiked, however, the better it looked. I caught a nice brown in a run not far from where we parked and later a beautiful, dark cutthroat that rose to a Stimulator in a deep hole overshadowed by exposed roots at a nice bend in the creek.
The creek was so enticing that I repeatedly longed to see what was around the next bend. Despite its almost irresistible call, I decided to go back and check up on Dad. I found him sitting in the car ashen, feverish, and cranking the heat in July. We decided to call it a day.
As we drove home, I had the strong premonition that Dad would not live much longer and the thought brought tears to my eyes. To my dismay, Dad passed away the following March. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t miss him.
Some may think that this sad experience might steer me away from Siren Creek. To the contrary, I have been back numerous times and have become enraptured with this little creek, its seductive twists and turns, and its small Yellowstone Cutthroats. The creek has become one of those sacred places where I go to remember Dad and the good times we spent together.
I’m starting to understand what Norman Maclean meant when he wrote about reaching out to those he loved who had passed on to the other side and hearing some of their words in a river’s whisperings. It’s like a siren that keeps calling me back.