A fly rod is a magic wand of sorts. Depending on the sorcerer that wields this instrument, a million different outcomes can result on any given day. Waving that magic rod can bring friends together, help one to find peace and solitude, and even serve as a bridge connecting the angler deeper to the outdoors. A fly rod can send us to all corners of the world, in pursuit of an experience that the hooking of a fish may only play a small role in.
Fly fishing has taken on many different roles throughout my relatively young career as a newly 29 year old. When I began fishing with “addict status” stamped on my forehead, the goal was to catch fish… big fish… lots of them and more than my friends, all so you could brag at the bar over a microbrew. Sounds like your cliché, young fishing guide living in a ski town. That perspective slowly washed away with each additional day on the water with my Australian Shepherd, Laynie, at my side.
My time on the water began to be defined by a deeper consciousness that transported me to a peaceful place where I found my senses heightened. A broad shoulder brown sipping tricos across the stream felt like it could be heard a hundred yards away. The subtle emergence of psuedoclones were now observed in slow motion on a rocky mountain fall day, filling the air with life. This reminding me of each bug’s year long journey under the water’s surface for the chance to spread their wings for one day before falling to the anxiously awaiting trout below. Snow capping the tall peaks surrounding North Park while the scent of rutting moose kiss the vigilant nose of Laynie, reminding us we are just guests here.
As I sit on a plane flying 13 hours just to have a chance at casting to a trophy bonefish on the flats of Oahu, I openly admit fishing has become so far removed from the original goal of simply catching a fish. Fly fishing is now my vehicle to connect to the outdoors, a way to slow things down, drop out of reality, notice the unnoticeable, and find my center. A fish on serves now as: icing on the cake, a bonus, maybe even a surprise.
Samurai Warriors define a heightened state of awareness as “Satori”. This is achieved when all senses are activated and out perform their own abilities causing the warrior to see the world in a different light. The warrior makes life and death decisions without thinking, all the while keeping a quiet, calm and clear mind. Sure, when on the river, nobody is doing battle or waging war, usually far from it, but where the mind goes with fly rod in hand can be very similar. These heightened senses help to pick up the nuances of the ever changing river and most importantly for me, find peace, and myself as a centered angler.
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