My church on the stream.
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Most of the problems of the world can be solved with just a little fly fishing. Although I have fished most of my life in different locales, I took up fly fishing about twenty years ago. One of the first things I learned was that casting a fly rod was unlike any other rod and reel I had ever used. It wasn’t a matter of sheer strength but rather a lot of finesse. The rhythmic casting between ten o’clock and two o’clock in a constant manner represents a harmony between rod, reel, line, fly and fisherman. Consequently, there is a certain amount of grace and serenity in fly-fishing. Watching a fly fisherman who knows what he is doing is truly a work of art which is why they constantly cultivate their skills in search of perfection.
Deep sea fishing is fun as you can drink a few beers and chew the fat with your buddies. However, fly fishing requires you to be more independent. Even when you work a stream with a group of your friends, you are essentially on your own and must respect the space of other fishermen. There is a certain amount of protocol to be observed on the stream, a sort of gentleman’s agreement with the Golden Rule being, “I won’t spoil you’re water and you won’t spoil mine.”
More than any other type of fishing I have experienced, fly fishing teaches you patience, discipline, strategy, and how to relax. It’s not merely a matter of casting a hook, but rather making the proper presentation of the fly to the fish. The difference is analogous to eating at a fast food restaurant versus being served a meal by a waiter at a five star restaurant. Trout are notoriously picky eaters. This requires different types of flies and casting techniques in order to carefully present your offering to the fish. I’m sorry, but the brute-force approach simply doesn’t work here.
Fly fishing also requires concentration, particularly as you change flies, which, in a rushing river, can be a very challenging task requiring considerable patience and skill in tying the fly. Then there is the matter of being able to read the river and look for holes where fish may be waiting, or observing the types of live insects the fish are striking at, thereby causing you to select a suitable fly to use. There are countless things to consider as you work a stream which is why it is necessary for you to remain focused if you want to catch anything and avoid an accident. There is a serenity in such discipline, particularly in the outdoors where you commune with nature. The sounds of the river, birds and other wildlife only adds to the ambiance and you become acutely aware you are doing something rather extraordinary here.
Catch and release can be every bit as rewarding as catch and keep. However, there are few things better than cooking a trout on the grill immediately afterwards and joking with your friends about your mishaps in the stream. Sometimes we take a small propane gas grill and frying pan with us so we can cook our catch near the stream. You have to be careful though as you do not want to attract the attention of a hungry bear, but aside from this, freshwater trout cooked this way is simply marvelous.
I hope to continue to work the rivers and streams for several more years and do battle with the rainbows, cutthroats, brooks and brown trout. Even the little ones can cop an attitude and present an interesting challenge, but to land a big one in the wild, not in captivity, is like reaching a state of Nirvana.
Fly fishing is one of the best things I’ve learned to do, and I’m still learning as it is a never ending educational process. I may not be the best angler, but there is something magical about working a stream with your fly rod. As for me, I get to put away the phones and computers, put on my fishing vest, light a cigar, and quietly slip into the chilly waters in search of my adversary. Whether you catch anything or not is immaterial as far as I’m concerned. There is something about watching the sun squint through the trees, casting long shadows over the melodic rhythm of the river; something quite spiritual. Entering the stream causes you to put things into a different perspective and suddenly all of your problems become minuscule. The solitude of fly fishing offers the fisherman a place for peaceful introspection, far better than any church I have attended, which is why I often refer to the river as “St. Timothy’s.” You may not be able to solve all of your problems by fly fishing, but you sure can tame them.
Keep the Faith!