Neil Travis - Feb 18, 2018

As I peruse the various fly fishing bulletin boards and observe my fellow anglers when I’m spending a day fishing I have taken note that the angling population is aging. I also notice that when I look in the mirror I’m reminded of the lyrics in that old Frank Sinatra song “The man in the looking glass who can he be? The man in the looking glass can he possible be me?”

Approaching three-quarters of a century from the date of my birth I realize that one cannot deny the effects of the passage of time. These effects have required me to make certain adjustments to the way I do certain things and that involves fly fishing. I have come to realize that it is wise to admit my own mortality and not try to pretend that I am still a young buck.

This is actually a cautionary tale. Because of pride we often do not like to admit that we are not as young as we once were. Again, I’m reminded of the lyrics of a country and western song by Toby Keith, “My body says that you can’t do this boy but my mind says Oh yes you can.” A few years back an old friend of mine thought he was still as capable as he was when he was several years younger and it cost him and a friend their lives.

Where am I going with this? Simply put, we need to be realistic about our abilities and our general health when we head out for a day of fishing; it can help us to avoid getting hurt or worse.

One of the places that it’s easy to get into trouble is when we are wading. If we fall in or get swept away in the current and just get wet and a bit humiliated that is the best case scenario, however if we fall and break something on the rocks or find ourselves struggling to keep our head above water it becomes an entirely different situation. I always wear a wading belt that helps keep water from filling my waders in case I take an unintended dip. In recent years unless the bottom is mostly sand or very small gravel I carry and use a wading staff.

There is nothing wrong with admitting that one is not as young or as spry as they once where back when they were younger. Back in the day I would be on the stream at first light and still be making one last cast as twilight turned to dark. I don’t do that anymore, not necessarily because I can’t but I know that I will pay for it for several days to come. On those occasions when I may be on the stream for several hours, usually when floating, I pace myself – fishing when it looks like the fish are working and resting in the boat when I would probably just be making lots of casts without much result. I find that I have just as much enjoyment and my successful hook-ups are just as numerous as they were during those days when I beat the water from sunrise to sunset and beyond.

At the close of the day I like to set back and watch God paint the sky a variety of reds and oranges fading into soft mauve before darkness settles over the land. The words of that old song plays in my mind: “The man who’s wise never forgets, That life is worth living if once in a while, You can look in that looking glass and smile.”

I smile a lot these days.

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