As we move into the 2013 holiday season, we are reminded to be thankful of what we have. We celebrate certain aspects of our lives such as having family, friends, and good health during this time. This holiday season (and every other season) I head out to fish once a weekend and while on the bow or the platform of a skiff in the middle of nowhere I am given time to think. In the silence we experience while either fishing alone, or stalking fish with a friend, we are allotted time to see the untouched world around us and experience how nature works without human influence.
At this time, I am able to give my own thanks while thinking of what I was doing there out on the flats in that particular time. The question I asked myself this time was- Why was I fly fishing? I knew the obvious answer right away as fly fishing being a possible evolution of my skill in fishing, but what about the deeper answers to such a complex question? Why do you fly fish? What would drive a man to chase fish deep into the wilderness on a small boat armed only with a long stick, a terrible excuse for a winch, and a bunch of colored feathers? There in lies the answer.
I fly fish because I am thankful for what I see each and every time I am out on the water, and how it allows me to slow down to take it all in. The abundance of life, the flora and fauna, the way the water moves, how the planet has been shaped over the course of millions of years, and most importantly- how it all effects these fish we chase to the ends of this vast wilderness.
I fly fish because it allows me to slow down and become patient for once in my life. From Monday through Friday during the week I am a very impatient person, getting everything I want when I want it. That luxury is not afforded on the flats while holding a fly rod and staring into the water. You only get what you want when the conditions are perfect- as messed up as they may seem sometimes. You may not think of it, but 20MPH wind and a chopped up water surface might just be the ‘perfect’ conditions you have been patiently waiting for, even though you curse mother nature and her offerings as the day goes on.
I fly fish because I do not wish to keep the fish, or displace them for any extended period of time. The fish are catering to my primal needs of hunting down an animal with a man-made tool and achieving the apex of the hunt which culminates when we finally meet in the cockpit of a skiff. Then we say our good-byes and part ways until we meet another time. Fishing with a fly is my version of hunting. You stand on the bow of a boat searching high and low for your one shot into tricking an living animal to eat your tiny self-made fly.
I fly fish because it is art, and a skill. Aside from the above, fly fishing to me is an art. From the minute I clamp a hook onto the vice at home in my office and begin tying an odd concoction of thread, feathers, and synthetic fibers all the way to the way I whip the floating fly line in the air attempting to make perfect loops. Each time a home-made fly leaves the vice, enters my fly box, and comes back to the boat in the mouth of a hungry flats inhabitant, my masterpiece is complete.
I fly fish because my thankfulness for all of these things drives me to have a stronger bond with them. I don’t keep the fish because they are living parts of the ecosystems I care deeply about, and fly fishing helps me to enjoy my dance with these fish from the minute they show interest in my offering all the way until we physically meet along the side of my small skiff. After the fly is removed, I thank the fish for playing along with my game and release him back into the water to hopefully live a long and productive life. One day the fish will hopefully give back to me in the form of new offspring, that if all goes to plan, mine will enjoy just as much as I have.