In the first season I started out working
my way upstream, pushing hard against the
currents of life. Most of us start our
fly-fishing journey that way. Just standing
in place is hard enough and we definitely
need help if we are to make any headway. Soon
we learn of the 'masters,' those special
people we classify as 'gurus.' Those possessors
of all wisdom, the casters of perfect casts,
tiers of fabulous flies, writers of all forwards
and the real good stuff in magazines.
To say we idolize them is probably a stretch...
probably. When getting started, getting our feet
wet without going over our waders, so to speak,
these are the ones we seek out for instruction.
To actually meet or even see one is a very big
deal. Mostly we are content to buy their latest
book, preferably autographed, but we are not fussy.
Information is our food, it's location our quest.
The Holy Grail lies just around the next bend.
At first the waters are deep, often muddy and
turbid. Things are hard to see and understand.
Trying to reach the bottom is often nearly
impossible. Shifts and swings in the current
often sway us in different directions, sometimes
back and forth. Our footing is always tenuous.
All information needs to be devoured, to be
rejected only if found to be totally unpalatable.
In our middle season, about half way upstream,
still working our way against the current we
start to think a bit differently about these
guru types. Sure, they know a lot, but most
of it we realize we have no use for. So what
that they have been all over "Walton's Waters,"
most of what they know or write about doesn't
apply on our home waters. Oh, sure some knots
and tippet stuff and lines and rods and leaders
and hooks and flies and all that, but we would
have found out that stuff by ourselves anyhow.
You start to realize that much of what they know
they learned from someone else. In fact, you are
a bit suspicious of something you just read by
one of them, you think you have read it somewhere
else, but maybe not.
Your casting seems to get you to the other side
of the stream now and you have annoyed more than
your share of fishes. The information you now
accept is more finely filtered and sometimes
even challenged. Your waters are slowing down
a little and spreading out now. More room for
a nice back-cast and sometimes a nearly perfect
forward cast. Sometimes you even get it right
more often than not. Life is good, you are
gaining some control, the cfm seems to have
dropped off a bit. You can start to see things
on the bottom that might cause you to stumble
if you are not careful.
You refuse to use a certain knot just because
someone said you should. Sometimes you skim
books instead of digesting them. Reading is
becoming leisure rather than class work. Some
people you know also fly fish, and don't think
you strange because you do it. You can now
remember your children's names, and even some
of their birthdays. The wife's anniversary date
is still her problem, you can deal with that
in the future.
As my final season develops and I take my
stand I see that all of the major waterfalls
are behind me now. The currents have slowed,
as have I, an equilibrium has been reached,
mutually shared. I go neither forward nor
back, but seem planted in place, casting
about at targets of opportunity. Most within
reach, yet somehow not as satisfying as they
once might have been. Far ahead, though the
view is somewhat foggy, I can see the origins
of my waters, the artesian spring which brought
forth the baptizing waters of life of my seasons.
The water is much easier to wade here, and far
more clear. Things which were too deep to
understand back downstream I now find fathomable.
I can see most everything clearly these days, I
am not dependant upon others for information or
opinions. Over my allotted seasons, which have
passed far too quickly, a lot of water flowed
by my waders, during the time I saw a lot,
learned much, remembered some, forgot most.
Those gurus of time gone by, what of them?
Of what use to me are they now?
Some have become revered, a couple famous, a
few wealthy, most well known for something or
other, many out of business and of course,
some have died.
But perhaps, just perhaps, if you are lucky,
as was I, very, very lucky, more than a few
will have become... your friends. ~ JC