Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Silence of a Solitary Fly Fisherman - January 2010

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 a 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.

Rerun Note: This post is what I'd like to think that Mike's Gone Fishin' is all about. Images on the stream - pictorial and verbal - working together to create a sense of place and mood. It is one of my very favorites.


e.m.b. said...

"And a single fish for a single fisherman has a certain quiet symmetry. One is enough today." Beautiful stuff, Mike.

Chris said...

It's true, Mike, fishing on your own is completely different than the (fun) comedy circus experience when fishing with buddies. And no competitions.

Just being there fishing is enough for me (most of the time)...

Great post. Hope you had your thermals on.

HighPlainsFlyFisher said...

Beautiful read , really enjoyed it. I can definitely relate to what you're saying as most of my fishing is done solo or with my best fishing dog.

Anonymous said...

Mike, That sums up what fishing is about for me too. It's more than catching fish, its feeding that primeval desire to truly be part of nature.