My Book Of Life
Yesterday I fished alone on a long wooded stretch. I typically don't like fishing alone. If I have a fishing partner I have someone to talk to and a photo subject also. Yesterday was different. I went alone to have some me time. Some recent news had me thinking about why I fish.
I started on my fishing journey at age five. I am fifty-six now. My first outing is very vivid in my mind to this day. My recent outings have been a little labored due to my back problems. They are shorter outings and I have lost my path a little. My focus seems clouded and not about the big picture.
Yesterday when I fished I was thinking about my past and what led me to this journey that is trout fishing. It was easy to establish my starting point and my motives. The big trout bug bit me on my very first outing at age five.
The other anglers that have taken a similar journey talk about the evolution of a trout angler. I was always of the opinion that I was stuck on that big trout level and that was why I fished. Yesterday as I fished I did some soul searching. The reason I trout fish came to me and it wasn't just one thing or the next big trout.
I take lots of photos when I am out on stream. Every so often I get a photo or two taken of me holding a trout. Every person that has ever taken a photo of me asks me why I don't smile when I am holding a big trout? I thought about it yesterday.
What makes me smile when I am out there? I caught myself smiling a lot when wandering yesterday. It clicked and it was a self aware moment. I thought back in to my book of life and it was obvious.
Early season trout fishing is cold and stark. The snow is typically deep and I wear out easier. The environment is not inviting like the lush greens of summer, but there is an allure to those days of frozen guides and numb fingers. The long winter has made me forget the gnats and mosquitoes of late September. My heart yearns to brave the crisp cold days of Wisconsin's early season. I like to be the first one to place their footstep in fresh snow of opening morning. It makes me feel like I am the first angler to ever set foot on that stream. One of my biggest smiles I can ever remember while fishing is when the snow was coming down hard on one of those frigid openers. The snow was going down the back of my coat and then that big broad smile was painted on my face. You would have had to experienced it yourself to feel what it meant to me. The solitude was deafening.
The day was cold and brisk but the solitude was deafening.
Spring comes quickly to my home waters. I don't miss a beat and am out there fishing and continuing my journey. The smells are amazing in spring. The ground melting has a unique smell to it. The trees are budding and the grasp of winter is being shed. The world is becoming anew. That very first smell of a plum tree blooming triggers a smile for me. The smell is better than any expensive perfume from Paris or New York. I feel alive again and I am anew.
Early summer comes and with it the baby birds and the sounds of the stream come with them. The first wildflowers appear. Not far after that the wood anemones and blue bells paint a tapestry on the valley floors. My stream is a veritable sensory smorgasbord. A constant smile was painted on my face. My stream is alive and me with it.
Summer brings hot and biting insects. My lust for the stream is dampened by the stifling hot, but I trudge on. What more could an angler wish for? I am one of those crazy guys that wade in water and mud up to their belly buttons and enjoy it. The only thing that could make it better would be a slow steady rain. Are you smiling now?
September comes quickly. The trees begin to change color. The leaves on your sentinels of the streams are tipped with gold. You need to layer up to fish because that cold wind has whispered to you that winter will come quickly. If you are not smiling then you need to lay your pole down and take up golf.
Enjoy life's special moments for they can be fleeting.
My very good friend was diagnosed with liver and colon cancer this Spring. He is upbeat and positive. I was bashful at first to talk to him about it. It made feel so mortal and close to death myself. We talked this weekend about it. He was candid about his condition. His positive thought process was obvious. I noticed he smiled a lot during our conversation. I need to learn to smile more often.
Thank you,it made my day.
I can relate to where you are coming from and understand it completely. I am reading a book now and came to this passage and thought of it when I read your post:
"I do not know if I fish because I like fishing, or if I fish because I love rivers. I do know that I am happier when I am near or in a river and that I could not long exist far from them. The stream is a book with an endless number of pages; no matter how well one reads or how long, he will always be coming on new and exciting chapters. There is a never-ending fascination beneath the surface of a stream and the happy reader knows that he will never in his lifetime be finished with this lovely book."
(Charles E. Brooks' book titled: Nymph Fishing for Larger Trout)
That pretty much sums up why I fly fish streams and rivers.......
Excellent post and thank you for sharing.
Right on. :D
So much LIFE happens near water. Its always interesting, always beautiful.
Great post. I love the pictures and the reflections. It seems the longer I fly fish I come to realize more and more that fly fishing is more than just the fish. My 3 sons and their families arranged a 5 day get together at a vacation house in the Driftless. Fly fishing with all my boys on a stream in the middle of a gorgeous "hollow" was an unforgettable experience. I think it was Henry David Thoreauthat said "Many go fishing all their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after."I know we all like to fish but at some time in our lives we realize it is more than just the fish. Prayers and well wishes for your friend.