This past July I was working at a credit union and one of our members took 3 of us fly fishing one beautiful, sunny Saturday morning. It was so peaceful stepping into a warm river, putting faith into the theory that bouncing a fly off the top of the water would magically connect you with an underworld being that you never knew existed. Beautiful picture in your head right now right? In reality, I spent most of the morning untangling my line, pulling a hook out of my shirt, and the only fish I caught was about a 2 oz. small mouth. In other words…I had the time of my life!
It is now February and I have spent the better part of my weekend mornings since then, standing out in 30 degree (F) or below water trying to cast a frozen line. Only to come up with a total of 4 fish…3 small brown trout and a salmon(which will forever go undocumented due to the mishandling of the netter). I have my own pole, vest, neoprene waders, numerous wool socks, a camo backpack, a walking pole, flies, line, strike indicators. I know how to knot, how to attach a leader to a tippet using a swivel, I change up my own flies, I rig my own rod. Along with all of this “field practice” I have been putting in, most of my evenings surfing the web include, fly tying tutorials, videos on casting, articles on reading the stream and knowing where to find the steelhead on a 6 degree (F) day. needless to say…I’ve come a long way baby.
What I did not expect when I first stepped into the water was the intense amount of peace I would feel, this past year on the stream has been a year of healing, my father passed away last spring; we didn’t have a very good relationship for most of my life. I was there with him at the end and tried to be there for him before it, but it was a push and pull relationship for as far back as I can remember. I am not sure what feels worse, losing someone you have always had a good relationship with, or saying goodbye to someone you should know better than anyone else in the world…but barely knew at all. With a family of strong personalities it was very difficult to try and navigate through the wreckage in a way that I needed to do for myself. But stepping into that water was like stepping out of an existance that needed answers into a life completely about the present moment. I felt like I could finally breathe after a year, or… maybe a lifetime of holding my breath. I found something other than fish in the Oak Orchard River that day…I found myself.
This is my hometown…
“At first when I started coming down, I thought I had to pretend to be something else, someone tougher…in order to prove myself. But as time went on, I realized; when I came here, I was more myself than anywhere else…and out there is where I was lost.” ~ KB