I check my footing on the uneven rocks, and then I check my flies. The size 14 elk hair caddis looks clean, and I generously apply floatant to hold up the nymph trailing off the back of the hook for hopefully many casts. Pulling line from the reel, I scout the location of where I want the flies to land. I see a nice current break that looks fishy, where resting areas and oxygen and food supplies converge. My anticipation builds. I hope I have thought out my pursuit well and can execute the plan effectively. I lift the line from the water and quickly make two false casts. I breathe through the movements of my arm, shoulder, and wrist and let the cast go towards my target. The flies land gently and begin a natural drifting motion downstream. Three seconds that feel like minutes pass and the dry fly unnaturally hesitates. I lift the rod pulling the slack off the water and immediately I feel a pull back with a headshake. Fish on!
“The tug is the drug” is a common saying among anglers. The moment a fish strikes your lure or fly is exhilarating. You set the hook, you feel the connection, you react and respond to the movements of the fish to bring it closer to you to land the fish. Landing the fish feels like complete success, but once the fish is hooked, there is no guarantee that you will land it. It takes a continuous connection, some skill, some luck, and proper equipment.
Thoreau famously said that “Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.” This quote is referenced often in blogs and inspirational postings about fishing. Escaping from the pressures of life, communing with nature, experiencing quiet and serenity, and challenging yourself to succeed are all things that can be gained fishing. For me, the connection between myself, my actions, and my environment is a vital reminder of the connections I need in my life.
There are moments in life where we put ourselves out there waiting for a response. We have prepared, we have thought it out, we have put our thoughts and feelings into an action, and we await feedback. Results from job interviews, proposals (of any kind), news from a doctor, and even a response to a text from a loved one can build fear, anxiety, or excitement.
I want to be noticed, cared for, and seen. I want to be affirmed. I want to be successful. I want to be healthy, and I want to be with my family and friends. When a response doesn’t come or takes a long time to come, the anticipation can overwhelm. In that waiting space, my brain recklessly spins through scenarios. I need a lifeline or a hug to help settle my brain. Sometimes, I can distract myself with the next thing, but often my brain can’t leave the space. I then think of the times people are awaiting responses or affirmation from me. I don’t always know what to do (see previous blog). Sometimes the need doesn’t register completely to me, and sometimes I am afraid to engage. The human aspect of each of us can make it hard to stay connected to everyone who would like our responses.
Thinking back towards fishing, connecting to the fish rewards my hard work and helps me feel connected to nature and life. When I see the take and set the hook, all is well in my world. I am also reminded that I need to do my part to set the hook for the connections in other relationships in my life.