|This story represents my unorthodox introduction to fly fishing.
The day itself just felt dead and lifeless. The sun beat down relentlessly and even the wildlife seemed to be taking to their hidden shelters.
I was hot, tired, and my hands twitched like an addict suffering withdrawals. We had tried everything, yet neither bait nor lure seemed to make a difference.
It was the end of the day and the yellow-orange glow of sunset bathed the scene in one small consolation for our time spent.
As we began to consider our departure, a man walked up from behind us and asked if he could take our spot. We obliged and packed our things but continued to putter around the area for a while and observe him.
I recognized his attire immediately; waders, fly rod, fishing vest. A fly fisherman. This was intriguing to me as at this stage of my fishing career I had not yet attempted fly fishing. His obvious goal was the inlet mouth that ran, inaccessible to us, a small way away from the sandbank we stood on.
I felt like an audience member to a concert, watching on in envy over the spectacle before me that I had not the power to experience myself. I yearned to feel the cool flow of water around my legs and the power of a stream that ran freely for miles upon miles until it ended up trapped in the man-made lake.
The ripples spun off as his legs broke the waters movement and the gentle sloshing was loud enough to be heard even as he walked away from us.
As if cued by a hidden voice, the fly fisherman stopped and unpinned the fly from the rod and whipped it out in front to begin his casting. It was magic.
A great Heron in human form. Gracefully moving through the water, eyes locked on a sub-surface point only known to him. The line unfurled behind his form like great wings and flew forward in the looping arc credited as one aspect of fly fishing’s unique beauty.
The man was silhouetted by the orange sun, a natural painting. The last cast settled upon the water and the man’s figure froze, save for the hands that drew up the coiled line as it drifted towards him.
All this is now familiar to me; the wading, casting, and stripping of line is just second nature to a fly fisherman. In this moment however, I noticed each piece separately as they began to seamlessly flow together into a dance. A choreographed work of art took place before me, highlighting the connection between this man and his chosen prey.
As I continued to watch, a desire sprung up from within me to fly fish. To experience for myself the majesty of this pursuit. This feeling was made stronger by the man’s next cast.
It was not unique compared to its predecessors. The line flew and fell like snow on the water’s surface. This time however, the fly at the end of the line vanished in the deft swipe of a trout’s mouth.
The line snapped off the water’s surface and spray wafted through the air as the hook was set. The rod was bent. The arms were raised.
This was the second moment of awe. This lone man had accomplished in a ten minute span what a group had tried to achieve in a day.
“What power there is in fly fishing!” I thought.
I yearned to shed my socks and shoes and walk out to the man, not exactly sure what I would do whilst beside him. See the fish? Ask what fly he used? Surely at this point this man was a celebrity in my eyes. A fly fisherman.
Though I don’t know who he was and never exchanged words enough to find him again, he gave me my love for fly fishing. Something that I will never take for granted and continue to pursue until the day I die.