Several years ago, Byron and I took a road trip down to the Bay area and visited our friend, Jay. At the time, Jay was super into fly fishing. He even tied his own flies. There were at least a dozen of them lined up on his desk, showin’ off their different feathers and sparklies and colors. I pointed to a pink fluffy one and said, “Wow, Jay, that’s really pretty!”
Jay immediately gifted me the fly. I named it Fernando. Fernando now lives in my car and gets his feathers tussled by gentle sun-roof breezes. Sometimes I sing ABBA to him.
Fast forward to present day. I was having dinner at my parents’ house, and my dad was sitting in the living room, going through his fly fishing vest. He had just gone fishing that day and was sorting things out. True fact: there is so much stuff that goes along with fly fishing. Little tools, different types of line, all those different beautiful flies. I pestered Dad with questions as he put things away, and finally he asked, “Would you like to go fly fishing sometime?”
So off we went.
We were after cutthroat trout — they follow the dying salmon upstream, eating their eggs. The salmon presence was unmistakable — from the moment you stepped onto the stream, a faint yet definitive fish smell hung in the air. And you could see them in the water, of course, laboriously making their way upstream. One of them scared the crap out of me as I waded through the stream bed, suddenly lunging out of the water about three feet away from me (I SWEAR IT WAS TRYING TO ATTACK).
Now, I can’t say that I’m a total newbie at this. Dad taught me once before — I think I was in middle school? But, you know, my skillz have gotten a bit rusty, to say the least. Dad had me tie the flies on the line, for practice. First cast — that fly I tied on oh-so-well goes slipping off. Oops. Good thing I had my super-snazzy fly fishing vest with all the pockets to hold all the things. Including extra flies.
I can see why a lot of writers enjoy the pastime of fly fishing. Like running, it’s a physical task, and a very rhythmic one. The sound of the stream going by, the weight of the pole in your hand as you cast, the swish swish swish of the line snapping through the air. The methodical nature of it all helps clear the head. And that’s what we writers need from time to time: something to clear away the jumble, get us out from the darkness of our mind-grapes and into the light of day, so we can work out whatever word tangle is troubling us.
Since the good weather probably won’t hold out too much longer, I doubt I’ll get much more fly-fishing practice in this year. But I could see myself enjoying it in the future. That evening after I got home, Byron commented that I must be tired because I’d had an adventure.
“A ‘Laura’ adventure, though,” he clarified. “Sun, not a lot of people, nice and quiet.” Yes, that sounds like my kind of adventure indeed.