By Donny Shankle
Last week I did some trout fishing in Colorado with friends. I haven’t gone fishing in a long time and this was my first time to fly fish. I had a really great time even though I didn’t catch much. Only two fish gave me bites and one of those got away before I could bring it in. To bad too because I got a glimpse and it was big.
When we weren’t fishing we’d throw axes to test our warrior prowess and carry stones to show off our strength. When the sun set we’d chat about anything and everything. Put a few beers in good ol’ boys under the stars and you get yourself a bunch of regular preachers and philosophers. I think we made about as much sense to each other as the quantity of fish we caught. Not much but it was great to spend the time with good people before crawling into our tents to sleep.
The fly fishing was something completely new to me. I had a lot of fun putting on my fishing waders and going in search of where I thought the fish would be. I went out far too. Looking back I think I would have had more fun sticking around with the other guys but I know me. I figure if it’s hard to get there then that’s where the fish will be. I was wrong. All I got was sore feet and bruised up knees from tumbling over rocks. One spot though turned out to be a promising one. Not because I caught any fish but because I caught something else.
There I stood practicing my cast and listening to water flow towards and around me. Out of my peripherals I could see little creatures like chipmunks scurrying about catching insects along the bank. The clever ravens I’m sure had a good time watching me fail but I didn’t see them catching anything either. I believe a few squirrels probably had the best goings of it scavenging and digging up whatever it is they eat. While all that was going on I could see a few shadows of fish all around me. It didn’t do me any good asking them to go bite the bait I had cast out. Fish don’t hear too well. It must be because they’re missing ears. While all this was taking place I kept practicing my cast and each time I let out the line I couldn’t help but thinking about a perfect cast is like a perfect finish on the bar.
A good pull is patient like a good fisherman and a perfect cast is like a perfectly timed finish on the bar. Each feels like a whip in space. The arms stay relaxed and it’s all in the wrist when you bring the rod forward watching to see where the fly will land. Not so different from staying relaxed on the platform and bringing the hips through at just the right moment in time to feel where the bar will land across the shoulders or overhead. The only difference now is for the fisherman the fishing turns into a waiting game, while the weightlifter needs to stand up and get the down signal. Still though before that moment there are some similarities and it was fun to feel them all alone with nature around me.
Like I said, I didn’t catch much but I did catch something. I caught the wind in my hair and the sun on my face. The water was so chilly in my waders I may even later on catch a cold. Nah and even if I do it’ll have been worth it. I got to catch another one of life’s precious moments spent with good men. Life is full of moments and this will be one I won’t soon forget. I’ll keep practicing the perfect cast just like practicing my lifting in the gym. Perhaps next year I’ll get good enough to hopefully entice a few more fish to bite.