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.