The real challenge in writing about fishing is that, for some reason, almost all the best writers in the history of the world liked to catch fish with a fly rod, and it seems each took the time to write about it. For me, writing about fly fishing is an intimidating endeavor.
But for some reason, I feel compelled.
The desire to do so struck at an odd time. Over the holiday break, I was taking a moment to process the year that just past, looking at all the photos of my children taken on my phone. Seeing my kids as they went through the seasons, growing a bit with each frame, was bittersweet – a strange, aching kind of joy that all parents know. Precious moments, frozen in time, but gone forever. As has been said by every adult with children in their lives, they just grow up too fast.
Amongst the many picture of my kids, about every ten photos or so, I found a photo of a trout. Looking at the fish as the seasons changed, that was a lot easier. And they too, change with the season – leaner in the spring, plumper in the summer, more colorful in the fall, more sleek in the winter. (I don't take a lot of pictures of the fish I catch, and usually only break out the camera phone for a very colorful one, or the occasional lunker).
|Plump little brown caught in May.|
Loved the color on this fish.
Some people I know wonder why I spend so much time standing up to my waist in cold water, fiddling with invisible line and accidently pricking myself on occasion with tungsten steel hooks, only to return the fruits of my labor to the water in which I found them. There is a simple answer, and it’s not because I need fish. I fly fish because I love the art of catching them.
And, I do it whenever I can. Which still isn't enough. Usually, it’s squeezed around the edges of regular life – before the world wakes up, or when the wife and kids are doing something else, or the rare occasions when the lawn is mowed, everyone is content, and there are no work deadlines in sight. I joke that someday I’m going to write a book about the great lengths people like me go to get their fishing fix. The working title, “The Other Woman is a Trout.”
|Rainbow brought to net in September|
The allure of fly fishing is easy to understand. But the true joy of the sport is almost impossible to sum up. Maybe that’s why so many better writers than me have spilt considerable ink writing about it. For me, though, the joy is in the supreme challenge of it all – a challenge that is ever changing. Sun, wind, water temperature, flow, clouds, time of day, season, all are variables in constant flux. No two days are alike, no two moments are alike. And each one presents new challenges and potential rewards.
To catch fish with a fly, you have to do your best to understand nature. You have to become an insect. You have to think like a fish. You have to observe, and learn, and change. And when it works, and that elusive trout sips your little bug off the surface of the water and tightens your line, you get your reward: the heart pounds, adrenalin surges, your mind celebrates, and then focuses on not snapping the leader as the fish begins to fight. Because, getting the trout to take is often just half the battle. Maybe two-thirds, but there is work to be done.
|Beautiful Brookie, took big fall streamer|
On good days, when everything is working, and you are thinking like a fish and acting like a bug just right, it can be beautiful. On those days, as time ticks by, and life and responsibility beckon, you can't help but think, just one more fish.
|Me, holding a 18-plus inch Rainbow.|
Of course, it was dusk so you can't
see the fish. You'll have to trust me.
As I think about it, there is a deeper reason I love fly fishing. For me, it is about slowing the world down just a bit, stopping time and doing something pure, if only for a moment. And, while my wife has no interest in the sport, I can’t wait until my kids are old enough to truly enjoy it too – if they choose. If they do, and if we go fishing together, I can’t imagine what if anything will force us off the river, short of the setting sun.
But, for now, all I have to show the world from the many hours I've spent pretending to be a bug and thinking like a trout, is a few photos on my phone, scattered among the photos of my beautiful children. And that will have to do just fine.