Somewhere in the day there is a cast that is like a metronome, it puts a click track into your head, your arm becomes a pendulum and you strip, strip, strip, set hook! This is the music of fishing, even a guy throwing plastic into a deep pool feels it, the twitch, twitch, twitch, reel down, set - rhythm of a good day on the water.
But not everyday is that kind of day. There are those other days. Days when the fish refuse everything you throw at them. Days when wind-knots crowd your leader, snag free flies snag, knots mysteriously come untied and your line puddles up in front you. There is no rhythm to your motion and mosquitoes feed on your bug spray. Worse yet is when a rod tips breaks or the biggest fish of your life pulls off all of your backing and your line separates because you realize it's been ten years since you changed it and worse yet, you realize that you've never caught anything this big before and then there's that sound, the little pop noise that you line makes when it breaks. The spool is empty. The sun stops shining. The expletives flow as easy as a cold beer and your world rushes inwards as your brain misfires on every cylinder. It's dark in the middle of your sunshiny day.
Everyone hates those days, yet if you fish often enough, you'll gather plenty of them.
If you're obsessed, you think, “Tomorrow, it'll be better tomorrow,” or better the next time. You sit with friends and tell stories of the "one that got away" the backbone of every fisher's bag of tales. We all tell them, "it was so big I could waterski behind it!"
We win by losing; when we fall in, it's an adventure, if we nearly drown, it's a life lesson, stick a hook in yourself or a friend and scars become souvenirs. We make our fishing the warp of thread that we tie our tales onto when we create that wall hanging we call our lives.
So why do we continue? How many of us think that we should buy coats with arms that tie behind us? How many wives or girlfriends think that?
I believe we are drawn to this because fishing is a mystery. You sit in a drift boat staring into tea stained water, the guide says, "Cast over there." You don't see anything and yet one cast into the emptiness and a brown shadow rockets out of the water. Sight fishing is often a misnomer; it should be called shadow fishing as you cast at shapes that move in pursuit of prey. It's the mystery of what's there. The question of do I have what it takes to fool them and of course the mystery of what the hell is putting a loop into my rod?
Some of the people I fish with can tell a fish by the strike, some by the dogged pull, others by the head shake or spin in the water. Sometimes they're wrong but always surprised. Like when a creek chub takes like a trout or a brookie fights like a huge fish and is about ten inches long. A couple of weeks ago, I took a drive to a small lake near my house and threw a black woolly bugger. I had a hit and a monster fish stayed deep and pulled hard not revealing itself, like so many of the fish we catch. I finally got it pulled it out of the green dark water- yep about a five pound channel cat. Mystery solved.
Stuart Van Dorn