Fishing: A Social Affair?
Every week one of the first questions that gets asked around the shop after not seeing someone for a while is “been fishing much?” Of course, the answer is generally “yes” followed by a slew of stories involving different places and flies and, of course, a fish that was THIS big and got away. One other aspect that is critical to a good fishing story is the other folks involved….or lack thereof.
Fly fishing can be an awesomely social experience. Getting a group of close friends together (and some beers) and hitting the river for a day of fishing almost always results in laughter and good conversation. Standing along the river in a remote location and having the sound of laughter and “Fish On!” echo throughout the area are some of my favorite memories of summer. Beyond that, it’s a great time to have a conversation about the things that are on your mind without the intensity of sitting at a table over coffee or beer. Those big problems that need to be talked out, oftentimes, don’t seem as big when on the river with friends. Having another person around can also help validate when you tell the story about how you just lost the “biggest fish of your life” to a disbelieving non-fisher.
But there is a unique feeling to being on the river alone…or at most, with dog. As special as the sound of laughter is, the sound of sandhill cranes at daybreak and the feel of Koda’s warm body laying next to me in my sleeping bag while the crisp air numbs my nose creates a total sense of serenity. Putting on waders still wet from the night before and walking down to the river with Koda excitedly following at my heels – those things could happen with friends next to me and be enjoyable, but there is something sacred to doing it in the quiet on my own. I think that being on one’s own allows a space for thoughts to flow freely and the mind to relax and truly know itself.
I don’t know that one way is better than the other. Whether you enjoy fishing on your own or being with a group, at least you’re getting out and loving what we are so fortunate to have. As one of my favorite authors, Annie Dillard, said, “Spend the afternoon, you can’t take it with you”.