I trick myself this time of year.
As spring in Colorado heats up the afternoons, and our frozen creeks melt into the clarity of good gin, my mind creates reasons why the fly rod in the back of my truck should be assembled.
Surely there’s a problem set that requires the type of focus I can only achieve in nature. I really should cut out of the office for a few hours.
Equipped with a focal point for my solo transcendental brainstorming session, I drive a few miles out of town to find solitude, select the flies that have caught fish here before, put on my waders and make my way down to the water’s edge.
As my line casts through the air and lightly deposits a fly upstream, I can’t help but feel that I’ve gamed the system.
Like a kid who’s skipping school and still getting credit.
But a trout just laughs as my fly swiftly dashes over the surface above its head.
I can’t hear his laughter, but I know it’s there.
I can see his brown speckled back resting in the eddy-line, paying no heed to my best attempts at catching him.
What a gumby he must think I am. Yet, I deserve this mockery. I purposefully set out with the intention of not being fully present, to engage in a craft that requires complete presence.
What was I expecting?
The intent of fly fishing is to mimic an insect’s natural movement as it follows the currents of a stream. For a fisherman to recognize the minutia associated with a fish’s bite, their hand must be connected to any vibrations flowing through the rod, down the line and out the hook.
Had there been a strike, my hand was not connected enough to the fly to feel the fish’s take. And with that realization came another: The reason I fish is to feel immersed in the present moment.
It is my meditation.
It is where I find solitude, presence and success.
Maybe it’s not the catching of fish that drew me to the sport, but my mind’s desire to be in a state where I could catch them.
And with that, I feel the line come tight, then race from my reel.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Rachel Nussbaum
Photo: D. Scott Clark