Turning Over New Leaf

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The “Art” of Fishing


“There don’t have to be a thousand fish in a river; let me locate a good one and I’ll get a thousand dreams out of him before I catch him – and, if I catch him, I’ll turn him loose.” Jim Deren

For many years, I have had a recurring dream. I see myself fly fishing alone in some mountain river somewhere on the planet when a trout hits my line with a vengeance. The ferocity takes me by surprise and nearly yanks the rod from my hand. Nevertheless, I persevere, and after a fierce struggle, I net myself what turns out to be a world record German Brown. I pause a few moments to admire my prize, before wetting my hands so as not to damage his scales as I gently place him back into the water, moving him slowly forward and backward, until his gills replenish and he dashes away to hunt another day. No one need believe me, because I know.


Somewhere, perhaps thousands of years ago, someone must have toyed with the idea of fashioning an artificial fly from some material suited to imitate an insect capable of attracting a hungry fish, and sport fishing was born! What brings me back time and time again is the urge to enter an otherwise inaccessible world of of Nature to connect with one of its inhabitants on a personal level.

Once I got hooked, I could not resist delving into a world of rods, reels, lines fly-tying, and wilderness that has driven much of my life. Certainly, I am not speaking of heavy equipment and modern tools geared to land a free meal.

The art of fly fishing is unique. It is opposite of the picture non-fishermen must envision, where one affixes a sharp steel hook to a heavy rod and a strong, light line. Fly fishing entails casting a long, very light leader upon the water by throwing a heavy line in a gentle manner, so it rests upon a river or lake sans a splash that would spook a trout. At the end of the long leader is an artificial fly, hand-spun to imitate whatever insect might be prey for the day.

In my case, I only use flies I tie myself, and I affix them to barbless hooks so as not to injure or kill the fish after success. The sport is in casting the line just perfectly, laying out over the water, while allowing the much lighter leader to gently float down to the surface ever so slowly, deceiving the trout into thinking a live insect is about to fall into the drink. They often hit the fly in mid-air, adding to the excitement.

Of course, there is no sport at all unless the trout can easily snap the line. The goal is to land a ten-pound fish using a line that will break under four pounds of pressure. That takes some skill. And I confess – in all my years of fly fishing, especially in the wilderness, I never once thought of work!

I wish to formally thank Nature, and every fish I ever angled from the water only to let them loose. I have had many wonderful dreams.


  1. What a perfect sport for one such as you who seems to need no formal recognition of your many talents. I'm not at all surprised that you enjoy fly fishing enough to dream about it as well.
    Fishing is certainly an activity that lends itself to a calm and pleasant experience where unpleasant work and stress have no place. A line and a pole have many times been my saving escape.

  2. A River Runs Through It was such a gorgeous movie. The scenes I remember most vividly are the fishing scenes.

  3. Jasmine: "Saving escape" is the perfect term!

    Galen: Exactly!

  4. Hi JJ .. fishing is the most popular sport in the UK - I gather, though I haven't heard that for a while .. but it always fascinates me. I've never been fishing with anyone, so haven't experienced the experienced .. I can't say it inspires me .. but that's because I'd feel cold!! I'd try it one day if the opportunity arose ..

    Cheers - good that you can dream about a wonderful pastime ...

    Cheers Hilary

  5. Hilary: I have fished in the UK, and it is a wonderful experience. My biggest problem was that I was unfamiliar with the insect life the fish were feeding on, so I had trouble duplicating the flies.

    Also, the British have traditionally made the best fly reels. I actually ran an online business selling antique British fly reels, especially the JW Young brand. They were relatively moderate in price. However, in the 1950s and '60s, like much of the world, the British began moving their manufacturng plants to Asia, where the reels were made more cheaply, but the quality suffered.

    Just talking about it makes me want to re-open the online store!

  6. Fishing is very popular in Portugal, but not in rivers (though a few people also fish in rivers)but in the ocean. I do it frequently. And we have excellent fish to eat in the lucky days.

  7. My fisng skills go way back to using dough balls on a cane pole. First time my husband took me fishing he kept running his mouth about how I should do it. I finally set my rod and laid down in the boat for a nap. I caught more fish than he did that day and I think it's because he just didn't know how to be still, relax, and enjoy the peace and quiet of the lake.~Ames

  8. Fanático_Um: Yes, I would agree that Portugal has great fishing, but I have never had the pleasure. Perhaps, someday I will.

    Ames: Peace - that's what it's all about!

  9. Lovely. To relax I go for a walk in the mountains. I used to go jogging on the beach when I lived on the coast. Everyone needs something that gets them outside and connects them to the beautiful world around them, in my opinion. :), Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

  10. Miriam: Exactly! I love it.

  11. My husband LOVES of his most fovourite ways of passing time. We went for a drive up to the Sunshine Coast of Queensland last weekend and my husband spent the day surf fishing. No fish were biting but that didn't matter to him, he still kept tossing that line in till the sun went down. The ocean or connecting with nature in someway is just so therapeutic!


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