The phone call had started, and the conversation was beyond the point where people politely make small talk to wait for the late arrivals. So, I was officially late. I put the car in drive, slowly moving towards the exit. Then I heard the sound: the rough sound of metal scraping on metal and then a pop and clang. I looked in the rearview mirror and caught a glimpse of the movement. The call vanished from my priority list as I dropped the phone in the passenger seat and shut off the truck. Then I saw it: the dislodged gas nozzle laying on the ground. How could I have done that?!
I have never been that distracted and foolish at a gas station ever before. My walk of shame to see the gas attendant felt like I’d just lost a huge brown as I was about to net it. I filled out the paperwork and heard the manager’s stories of how often people drive off with gas nozzles still attached to their cars. I was still very embarrassed.
I began my day at 5 AM driving up to the Gunpowder so I could fish for a couple hours before getting on calls starting at 9 AM. As many fly fishermen and women know, keeping track of time when fishing is not always a skill that goes along with fly fishing. I had missed the 9 AM call and barely participated in the 10 AM call before everything was taken care of and I could head home.
As I was telling my story on the 11 AM call, a thought was creeping in my head. Am I addicted to fly fishing? I later Googled “fly fishing addiction.” Some fantastic blogs popped up. Matt Buchenau has a great fly-fishing blog on flyfishingfix.com where he lists the top ten reasons why fly fishing is addictive. On drifthook.com, Matthew Bernhardt lists a similar set of reasons on how an angler can become addicted to fly fishing. Vail Valley Anglers has a comical description of a conversation between two anglers and a painfully funny top 13 symptoms of fly-fishing addiction. To top it all off, there is an entire site about fly fishing named Fly Fish Addiction.
I started thinking of how my attachments to fly fishing have grown. Virtually all of the presents purchased for me in the past three years have involved fly fishing. When I have been able to travel for work or vacation, I investigate whether I can fish near my destination. I used to collect hats for the major and minor league baseball stadiums I visited. Now I collect hats from fly shops I have visited. I lose track of time when I am fishing. I try to fish at least once a week. I tie flies 3-4 times a week. Now, I am practicing casting once a week. I switched to an Orvis credit card so the rewards I earn will help me get more fly-fishing gear. I don’t mind driving 2-3 hours to fish for a morning or afternoon. I read fly fishing books (fiction and nonfiction), blogs, and magazines, and I watch fly fishing YouTube videos and follow numerous fly-fishing Instagram sites.
So, I may qualify as a fly-fishing addict. I definitely meet a lot of the criteria described in the blogs I mentioned above.
I also found a video on American Angler.com which describes the story of Mike Fisher, who uses fly fishing to overcome his challenges with sobriety. The Redpoint Center in Colorado describes how fly fishing is used in the recovery program of people suffering from addiction. They quote the research of Herbert Benson, MD who has completed studies that show decreased cortisol levels, lowering stress and improving the mental health of fly-fishing participants. I could not agree more.
One of the primary reasons I started this blog was to write about all the benefits I receive from my hobby of fly fishing. I think the stress reduction alone has tremendous benefits for me and helps me to maintain a positive mindset. I have found wonderful peaceful moments and joyful connections that would be hard for me to find without fly fishing. But I don’t always manage my time well. Even with all the encouragement I receive from my wife to support my fly fishing and my blog, she is sometimes frustrated when I am later than I communicate beforehand. She also worries when I am fishing by myself or later in the evening. It is also relatively expensive to travel and buy the gear, and it’s time-consuming. The time I spend fishing alone is time I don’t spend with my family.
Finding a solution or balance for my life and my time is a challenge. Making your hobby into another scheduled event doesn’t seem that appealing to me, other than the planning needed for a longer trip. I need to learn some hacks for managing my time better while I’m fishing (maybe setting an alarm!). Communication is always something I can work on, especially with my wife. Trying to make sure I am safe and responsible is a critical element to enjoying my time on the river. I can’t let my excitement and focus on fly fishing to distract me from the important relationships and responsibilities.
I do think that my walk of shame to the gas attendant has left a mark, and it is very unlikely I will do that again. My wife joked with me today as I was filling up the gas tank, and I was almost ready to laugh at myself. Sometimes I just need to be reminded that when I try to cram too many things in small amounts of time, things get missed and lost. Dr. Pat LaDouceur states, “There is only so much time in a day. Every time you agree to do something, you’re saying no to something else. Every yes is also a no.”
Addiction and obsession are terms often connected to activities that people overly invest their time in to the point of negative results. For me, I think the use of those terms can be a playful joke when I’m feeling like I’ve skipped out on a responsibility. When I feel like I’ve made a foolish mistake or let someone down, I know I must own my choice and remember that every yes is also a no. With all the benefits I receive from fly fishing, I’d like it to be a lifelong hobby. I want fly fishing to be a yes, without it having to be a no for spending time with my family and completing my responsibilities (like being on time for work calls and putting the gas nozzle back!).