Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Fool and His Fish

I decided to pack it in. The sun had already set, though the cloud cover hid any evidence of that fact. Still, it was surely getting late and cooling off too quickly to stay much longer.

For an hour I’d been casting onto the creek, drifting flies over the places I thought trout would be. And nothing had happened. 

Nothing good, anyway. 

I’d already lost three flies in the brush hanging over a particular hole, trying to drop one where I was sure a hungry fish was waiting. I had no proof, but I knew if I was a fish, that’s where I’d be. I pried a few other holes and flats, too, with no return on my investment of time and tiny, intricately-made little flies.

Maybe I’d lost my touch. It had been a while. Most years, I would have fished many times before late May arrived. But this year, it just hasn’t felt right. I’ve got too much to do and have accomplished too little to reward myself with time on the river. But today, I decided it was needed.

I’ve been feeling a bit gummed up on the writing side of things, which is unfortunate because it's how I make my living, and also my only real hobby, other than fly fishing. I’ve got press releases to write, and a book project I’m working on, and the whole blog thing. And none of it is flowing out of me these days. It feels like a chore.

I decided I should go talk to the fish about it, for a few brief moments, anyway. If only the fish knew how much thought I’d put into my post-dinner excursion to this river looking for a conversation, they’d surely be more cooperative.

Fly fishing is a repetitive endeavor. You cast and cast and cast, think a little, and then cast some more. There-in lies part of its beauty, and with it the ability to bring on a trance-like, meditative state.

Cast, drift, retrieve. Cast, drift, retrieve. Cast, drift, retrieve.

I’d only been at it an hour, a very short time considering the many hours I was capable of standing and casting. Yet, I was finding myself fresh out of daylight, and thus out of time. Besides, as W.C. Fields once advised, “If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it.”

This damn fool was going home.

I turned and walked a few strides up the river, headed back to the car and back to my current struggles with writing and life, when my eyes beheld something beautiful: a swarm of flies a few feet off the creek. It’s beautiful in the eyes of a frustrated fly fisherman, to be sure. They were dancing and dropping and rising again, in a mating ritual that happens on lucky spring nights. Lucky for them, and for the fish, and for me.

I couldn’t get close enough to identify the flies, but I knew the rough size and color. Likely a Hendrickson hatch. And if there were fish in this river, they would be rising soon.

Maybe I had enough light for a few more casts, I convinced myself.
 
Nice talking to ya.
Others have written and I’ve often thought about how fly fishing is like life. It always seems that just when you’re about to give up, or when resolved you've made your last cast, a little luck comes your way. Now, I am not a total fool, and I know there are many times when that luck never appears. There’s a fine line between persistence and foolishness. Hope can be the enemy of acceptance.

But I also know when the luck does arrive, or karma, or grace if you’re a religious person, it often makes a dramatic entrance. Like a swarm of flies dancing over a river.

Within minutes I’d hooked up with four hungry trout, including one in that hole, who I knew was there all along. We had our conversations, and I put them back. All was right with the world, and I could go home.

And it’s a good thing, because I had a lot of writing to do.

2 comments:

Larry said...

I hope your conversation with the fishes will prove the tonic you are looking for.

Cort Ruddy said...

Thanks, Larry. Time will tell.