KeriAn returned to camp this past summer with a dual purpose – to spread her husband’s ashes in the last current he fished, and to catch a brook trout on his favorite fly – a deerhair mouse pattern that he had personally tied. Her heart was heavy, but equally determined to complete this circle in a manner she knew would sit right with her Dean.
As the final week of our previous season began, KeriAn and her husband Dean arrived in camp with their fishing friend, Bruce. Dean was an avid fly angler who was in a raging battle with cancer. Yet somehow he had finagled an “OK” from his doctors to spend a week in Labrador, a wilderness he yearned to explore. The late August days had cooled and rain stood steady on the horizon. Dean was so weakened from recent treatments that he needed assistance just exiting the float plane. But his spirits were high and once in camp, his energy seemed to grow through the week with every new river he fished.
With the entire camp’s positive energy supporting him, Dean made it through a week of fishing, sharing the rivers with KeriAn and Bruce. His days on the river were short, but he caught handsome, coveted brook trout. Soon after the couple returned to Pennsylvania and the waiting chemo sessions, Dean lost his battle with cancer.
The whole TRL family was thrilled when KeriAn called with her intention to visit us again this summer. We greeted her on the dock with smiles and tears. With her friend, Molly at her side, KeriAn got right to part one of her mission and spread Dean’s ashes on his favorite Labrador brook. Back in camp, she was very clear about her next objective – “Get me to some hungry brook trout”.
So, we did.
The first thirty or so minutes in the river was a challenge. KeriAn was as new to wading as she was to casting a flyrod. It was the first pool where it all came together for her – a shaky cast, a few twitches of the rod tip, then the attack.
That first brook trout took her well downstream, not quite into her backing, but pretty close. KeriAn got a might flustered and begged for instruction. “Am I doing it right?”, she asked repeatedly. She was, except for maybe holding the reel handle a little too tightly when the trout ran.
If you have forgotten the significance of that smile, just imagine that this brook trout was the first fish you ever caught.
KeriAn went on to catch a lot of brookies that week, learned a lot about handling the long rod, studied and practiced her knots, and fell hard for this passion we all share. Like so many that have come to camp before her, the lives and stories are unique and passionate. And deeply felt, long remembered.