Meaningful Fishing

Connor fishing on a river
Fishing provides a wonderful excuse to be on this river north of McCall, Idaho which retains its beauty despite a fire that devastated the area ten years previously.

You may suspect from the last several entries that fishing is a significant interest of mine.

Yes and no.

Yes because I love to go fishing. No because I do it so rarely.

I’m not like many of my die-hard fly fishing friends who plan vacations around river ratings, think of waders as a fashion accessory or consider a discussion on the pupae state of certain aquatic insects as scintillating dinner conversation.

I can, on a good day, tell you the difference between tippet and the change you leave for the baristas at Starbucks. But once you get into the vast varieties of flies themselves – those artificial, fuzzy, feathery things tied around sharp hooks created to imitate anything remotely edible to a fish – then I’m adrift.

I grant you that flies are miniature works of art. And I’ve reached the point where I can throw out fly names like Gold-Ribbed Hare’s Ear, Partridge Soft Hackles and Woolly Buggers and keep a straight face. Well, most of the time.

Saying “Woolly Bugger” still brings out an adolescent up-turn at the corners of my mouth and the desire to turn to my friend and repeat the odd name several times gleefully. Just try it: “Woollybuggerwoollybuggerwollybugger, etc.” and see if you don’t feel some pre-pubescent delight.

But for me, fishing is more than the flies or even, as odd as it sounds, the fish. For me, fishing is an excuse.

It’s an excuse to linger for hours outdoors in a breathtakingly beautiful place. Sometimes you’re all alone. Other times you share the moment with a friend making both seem more special.

You enjoy the thrill of discovery. You experience the satisfaction of having a purpose for being there, as if you needed one. And sometimes, you even catch a fish.  

In many ways, fishing is like meaningful travel. When you are out there peering into the water, rod in hand, you are in a state of continuous anticipation. Your senses are on full alert. You pay better attention, look more intentionally and notice the water, foliage, insects, sky, movements, wind, sounds and light more. You are fully present to the scene.

Obviously, it’s nice to catch a fish. But to be surrounded by such beauty and to be fully aware, to anticipate and discover and be present, that’s reward enough.

That and getting to say, “Woollybuggerwoollybuggerwoollybugger…”

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