A Fisherman's Guide to Enlightenment
Finding your river.
esterday I hopped in my truck with my dogs and sped north seeking nature. There’s a small steelhead run
happening in a nearby river, and with any luck the salmonids would be populating the riffles and pools looking for food. The river is small, shallow,
but twisty enough to offer changes in depth with various obstructions, waterfalls and rocks for trout to rest behind. After a good rain, it is almost
a sure thing the fish would be feeding.
The river is only accessible by logging road, through which a vehicle rarely passes. These roads are a sign of what lies ahead, a greater proximity
between me and the concrete ant hill. In the city, it is difficult to be inspired by something so rigid, so systematic, where chaos and rivers are
dammed, walls erected, that sometimes what is still organic in it becomes insignificant. Like my thoughts, I am still organic; a wall cannot contain
The logging roads are no match for my Delica. That’s right, I own a Delica—which are surprisingly easy to find where hippies make up much of the
population. She's an outdoorsman's dream. She can go anywhere and haul everything. For a thousand dollars I can convert her to run on used vegetable
oil; and if I can stomach the thought of smelling like french fries I might do so. She’s funny looking, but a tank, and out on the deactivated
roads is where she can be seen in all her majesty, a mule becomes a white stallion, where no pothole, root or rock can escape her lifted fury. As a
method to my freedom from the system, she is wise, a vehicle to my wisdom.
However, there are places not even vehicles can go; the best of them are off the beaten path. Though she had brought me far, I had to escape the
confines and comfort of the Delica to proceed any further. My favourite fishing spot can only be reached by wading in knee-deep water, criss-crossing
from bank to bank where it is still shallow enough to keep a sturdy footing on the slippery rocks. If I fall, I get wet. Over fallen trees, through
bushes and boulders, none have ever stepped where my foot had landed. The most arduous paths lead to the best destinations; they are
Because it was hot out, I left my waders in the truck, and instead opted for shorts and sandals. What better way to feel the water? Stepping into the
river, accepting its cold force, we become a confluence. The dogs, German shepherds, loyal as they are, disappeared ahead in search of whatever dogs
search for, leaving me to fend for myself. Nothing here was under my control, everything was new. “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for
it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”
When I finally reached the abode, I was greeted by my dogs and my old sturdy friends the trees, who watched with a loving gaze as I meticulously
unpacked my gear. I use a hand-made 4-piece bamboo fly-rod. It was purchased in the 1920’s by my great-grandfather. Although it is slightly heavier
than a modern fly-rod, it offers an indescribable spring to my casts. I am not superstitious, but I cherish this mere thing, this stick, something
with little value to anyone else but me. With it comes a symbol of my memory, my language, and gives me a chance to fish with those whom I can only
think about. In the wilderness, any tool becomes an extension of ourselves, and we treat them is if it were a part of us. This particular tool was an
extension of not only me, but my family’s history. With pride, I presented a piece of my culture to the river so that she may accept it as a piece
Fly-fishing is an art form. Through it I can express my adoration and love of what surrounds me by living it. Only through expression and joy can I
give thanks. The river listens. Each cast was a reaction to impulse, thought, instinct, emotion and the product of a life-long relationship with
nature, me and the river as one. With my eye to the sun (shadows scare the fish) I moved as a heron through the water. Like the river, I flowed, I
adapted, I remained in motion, constant, graceful, never stopping in one spot for too long. In the comfort of home, behind walls, I cannot react as I
would in the push and pull of a cold river; there is nothing in a box to react to.
As fate would have it, what didn’t I catch? For hours I scaled the river and in the end caught nothing. I was wet, cold, muddy, and bug-bitten.
However, what might be seen as a failure of my experience as a fisherman contradicted the smile on my face. Through my failure I have gained. Through
the river I have lived.
How does one become a fisherman? One goes goes fishing.
Thank you for reading,
edit on 23-6-2013 by LesMisanthrope because: (no reason given)