Jul 05 2010

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Pagan Fishing

Posted at 8:05 am under Blog Post

This is more hunting than fishing, really.  The trick isn’t trying to hook the trout, but sneaking into position without spooking it.  The water in the pool is crystal clear and the bigger fish in it are wary – especially this time of year.  Oh sure, you can walk along the edge of a pool, casually cast your fly onto it, and most likely get a fingerling to rise.  But if you want the big guy in there, you’ll have to try harder than that.  You’ll have to sneak up on the pool on your hands and knees.

While you move into position, mosquitoes and other biting insects have their way with you.  Sweat drips from your brow.  Negotiating the jumble of rocks that define the brook is harder than you think – especially if you’re trying to keep a low profile.  If you’ve been at this more than an hour, your boots are wet and your pants are muddy.  Not that you care.  You’re immersed in the wildness all around you now, so being wet, dirty, bug-bitten and sweaty feels right.

Yeah, the boundary between self and other began to blur the moment you set foot on this brook.  The forest embraced you, the rushing water sang its Siren song, and you forgot about that other life back in the lowlands – if only for a few hours.

At first you stood tall and proud next to the brook, casting your line with benign indifference.  But now you are hungry for it.  Now you are down on your hands and knees, creeping forward like a predator.  The one you lost a few minutes ago awakened your senses.  The unexpected splash that soaked your floating fly stirred something deep within you.  So now you are creeping forward, praying to the gods of moss-covered rocks and fast-moving water for one more chance to match your reflexes against those of that aquatic phantom.

When a torpedo-like shadow darts across the pool then disappears, you know you’ve missed another one.    But there’s another pool just above this one where you can try again.  So you get up and move forward as slowly as possible, slipping into position once again, studying the intricate details of yet another beautiful pool.  Then you launch your line into the air, sidecasting back and forth beneath overhanging branches, finding your mark before dropping a fly on it with all the hope that exists.  And for a split second you are that fly, gently floating with the current until wham! a toothy mouth breaks the surface and clamps down.  Then the fight begins.

It’s more religion than sport, really.  You call it recreation but deep down you know it’s more than that.  Much more.  You don’t just ply the water for trout, you worship it.  Every cast is a leap of faith.  Every new pool is fraught with possibility.  And as long as you keep moving forward, everything is right with the world.

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