Fishing For Mindfulness
We all start somewhere!
There’s a personal connection one can make with a waterway and its inhabitants by what every human on earth calls Fishing; it’s not call “Catching” for a reason.
Full disclosure, I have been fishing for 32 years, which has been a lifelong progression to where I am today as a self-taught Fly Fisherman. We cannot pretend to think anyone wakes up and knows how to fish. The art of Fly Fishing can be daunting for a determined neophyte; desperately wanting to throw poetic loops like we see in the movies. Well, one movie…A River Runs Through It, starring a very young Brad Pitt. Most people that have seen this iconic movie experience a peek of intrigue about how therapeutic the sport can be. Regardless of how Fly Fishing comes into your life and the desire to indoctrinate yourself, everyone has to understand, with anything, it does not come naturally. In fact, it can be quite frustrating and discouraging if not encouraged by a knowledgeable “Fly Fisherman/Fisherwoman.” Here is my story…
It took 32 years of working on the basics of fishing, starting with a worm and bobber in the local lake at age 6 that got me “hooked,” pun intended. As a boy I was curious about what was beneath the surface, lurking in the shadows. Once I landed my first Bluegill (Pan Fish), I experienced the kind of excitement you can expect from an announcement about going to Disney World…I was uncontrollable, screeching, jumping, and lost control of every emotion and body control. I wanted more. It was all about what my mind and body could handle in tandem with developmental age.
What type of tackle I was capable of operating properly was my only ceiling. I was growing up before my Father’s eyes, as my confidence grew and my sponge of a brain soaked it up. I started reading the water and thinking like a fish, where do they hide, what do they eat, when are they active, just to name a few vital skills in anyone’s blossoming fishing thirst.
Fast forward to 12 years old, it is time to leave the friendly banks of the local lake sitting on picnic tables with rods propped up on Y-sticks. I graduated to moving water and the next mysterious species, Trout Streams. This is really where my obsession fostered into a full-fledged lifestyle. Whether I knew it or not, I was in school when on the water. Each time out, I understood more about rocks, eddies, currents, wood features and overhanging brush where the finicky Trout made their homes. I received my first fly rod just before my first day of Trout Season, back in the South-Central Pennsylvania creeks. However, my Dad only owned a fly rod, because he wanted give the illusion he was part of a community that stood for advanced knowledge and conservation typically found with Fly guys/gals. This we were not! We used worms and table food tied willy-nilly to the end of a fly line and used a half-hearted “Roll Cast” which in reality is just an overhand flip. Of course I did not know this at the time, all I knew was that I wanted to be my Dad, the mentor, We were not Fly Fishing.
I spent countless hours working downstream and then back upstream learning my craft. The solitude among the trees, boulders, and stream is the cerebral connection I have learned to use as therapy. The time I spend on the water going through my routines and repetitive actions gives my brain a chance to rest and heal from the tough times we endure daily.
The lifelong connection I made with Fishing, in general, is my proverbial church, it’s where I go to solve life, or at least try. I don’t know if it is the visual immersion in the dancing water currents or the whooshing white noise of water changing elevation, but Fly Fishing to me, is my chance to put life into retrospection.
All the things good in this world; curiosity, wonderment, observation, serenity, relaxation, and healing keep me going back time after time.
Tight Lines My Friends!