Rivers are drains, drainages in the most technical sense, and everything that starts up at the top eventually finds its way down to the bottom. That’s particularly noticeable if you happen to drop something into the river, and even more poignant if you’re forced to watch whatever you dropped bob downstream away from your clutching fingers.
I have a moderately solid track record of finding things in rivers, a track record made even more impressive in that most of what I find is in good shape. Never one to look askance at a good thing a lot of these found objects have made their way into my gear in one way or another. To date I’ve found three pairs of hemostats (one Orvis, two no-name), a small fly box, a double fistful of good flies I’ve picked off tree branches, one bottle of dry shake (still dry, miraculously), a wedding ring, a couple of zingers, and three pairs of sunglasses (one junk, one serviceable, and one very nice). In the spirit of losing things along with the rest of the world I have lost one pair of hemostats when I forgot that the zinger was broken and just dropped them into a six-foot-deep channel, a pair of sunglasses that tipped off the top of my hat while I was netting a fish, and more flies than I care to think about, now either rusted away to nothing or picked off tree branches by other enterprising anglers who, like me, find it hard to look askance at a good thing.
I have kept all of the things I’ve found. What I find and what I lose seem to level out in some larger cosmic sense and if I have come out slightly ahead at this point in the game I’m sure that I’ll be slightly behind at some future point. In a former life some bandmates and I used to joke about the plug bars in our gear box that all had other band’s names written on them. We lost ours when we let some other band use them and never got them back. At the next gig we needed a plug bar, asked another band, and then forgot to give that plug bar back. We figured that as long as we didn’t sweat losing the plug bars that we paid for, and we were willing to keep contributing to and occasionally withdrawing from the universal ebb and flow of plug bars that moved in and out of various band’s gear boxes, then we’d be ok. I feel the same on a river. I found your hemos, but someone else found my sunglasses. You lost a hat, I lost a fly box, but we each found a bottle of floatant and the zinger it was clipped to.
Things even out over time. When you lose something in a river (barring a fly rod, of course. You’re going in after the fly rod.) it’s simply left your hands to wind up in another’s. Around the next bend there’s an empty fly box, or a drying patch, or a nail knot tool. It’s an angling tax that is repaid in kind, though in somewhat different form at some point in the future.