I coaxed more line from the reel, again … .again … until it lay perfectly, caressing the water and beginning the tease of my quarry. I am fly-fishing a small river in Colorado.
The solitary pursuit of fly-fishing is salve for the soul. We fish for bass in farm ponds in Oklahoma and canoe down sluggish rivers in Kansas in search of catfish. But these are raucous activities- the bang of paddles against the canoe, the rattling of tackle boxes in the back of the pickup. Often relatives and friends accompany us; there are usually children and ice chests involved. It’s messy and loud and sometimes logistically complex.
But here- it’s me, a fly-rod and my fishing vest. It’s simple and quiet, and intimate. I meander along the banks, inspecting insects I capture, trying to find the perfect match among the tiny hooks clinging to the sheepskin. I look at nature more closely, and wonder at all the aspects of “fly” that I see in motion; a dragonfly alights and the slender stalk never moves, bits of dandelion float by, to settle softly somewhere. I wish to be like these things, not intruding upon nature, but enjoining it.
I can sit for hours next to a pond with a bobber to alert me. I can reflect, or visit, or read. But here, it requires all my concentration to finesse the yellow line into the perfect arc and settle across the shimmer of the river. It is an introspective reflection, finding within myself the calmness and patience to continue the exercise.
Then the trout engages my fly, and we began not the competition of bass fishing, but the corroboration of fly fishing, the gentle encouragement of human meeting fish, until it is in my hands. I wonder at the colors on its side, its beauty just for beauty’s sake, and I carefully release it back into the crystalline water. And start again.
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