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The Silence of the Solitary Fly Fisherman

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The Silence of the Solitary Fly Fisherman

Thanks to forum member Sep for allowing us to pick up this wonderful post from the forums and share it with everyone here as well. A brief essay on the joy of winter fishing, alone.

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 winter 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.

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