Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Silence of a Solitary Fly Fisherman


Silence. Crisp, wintery silence. No, not exactly silence. Something better. Silence gently wrapped around the soothing white noise of an icy, tumbling mountain stream. Silence overlaid by the soft swish of a fly rod, the hushed whisper of line sliding through guides, the occasional rasp of a reel feeding the ever-hungry cast. Silence attained by the crunch of boots in a blanket of snow and the sound of misty breath in cold air. Silence filled with subtle sound. Silence, then, not for the ears, but for the soul.

The silence of a solitary fly fisherman.


I don’t usually set out to fish alone, but I fish alone more often than not. It’s the result of my inclination to escape during the week, rather than weekends, and my habit of making spontaneous, last minute fishing plans. I typically ask a few folks if they’d care to join me, but I usually get the same lame excuse, something about working for a living. So I go alone, without regret, enjoying the silence of the road, soothed by the hiss of tires on roadway, the dull rush of wind over the windshield, the peaceful absence of radio, phone, television. Disconnecting from the electronic world, traveling toward the natural.


As I get older, I make concessions in my solitary fishing. I fish in familiar, accessible places. I wade more conservatively. I leave a detailed map with the missus. But I do escape. The cell phone, a blessing in so many ways, blessedly does not work when I'm tucked away in the deep mountain streams. Spending hours disconnected, without the sound of another human voice, is a gift of its own sometimes. Hours without worrying about the news, the job, the bank account, all contrivances of man. Inner silence, quiet solitude.


Today, a single pretty rainbow trout saved me from a skunking. With no witnesses, I could fudge that number, say I caught a dozen. But to what purpose? The number of fish caught doesn’t matter. The emersion in the natural order does. And a single fish for a single fisherman has a certain quiet symmetry. One is enough today.


So I fished alone within the silent sound of a new year, the same silent sound of last year, and of countless years before, here on this ancient, chilly mountain stream. At peace with the silence, comforted by it, nurtured by it.

The silence of a solitary fly fisherman.

7 comments:

Kev2380 said...

Great Post, Beautiful Pics.

Anonymous said...

Nice post - There is something very magical about absorbing nature on your own.

Alan Folger said...

There’s a great scene in A River Runs Through It when the Rev. Maclean points out that Paul is truly a fisherman. To state an equally obvious fact, you sir, are truly a writer. Beautiful.

Po Boy said...

Even my wife loved this article, and she doesn't care a thing about fishing. But that doesn't keep her from appreciating the beauty of the pictures, the words, and the thoughts.

Josie Ray said...

"The great silences mean more than stillness. They are the ancient overpowering silences this planet knew before the advent of modern man....

Quiet is temporary, the old silence ageless....

It includes the rushing of water, the crash of waves against the shore, the roar of avalanches on mountain slopes, of wind through the trees, the howling of wolves, the bugling of elk when the aspen are gold in the foothills, the myriad sounds of birds and insects.

Silence is one of the most important parts of a wilderness experience; without it the land is nothing more than rocks, trees, and water."

Sigurd Olson, The Great Silences

Anonymous said...

Wow! Fine work, Mike. You really capture the moment for many of us.

Chris

e.m.b. said...

Beautiful, beautiful writing..."And a single fish for a single fisherman has a certain quiet symmetry."
Yes...