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The Unseen Good

Posted 09-04-2012 at 02:15 PM by fatdaddy

I assume that most people who enjoy the outdoors could be considered ‘thinkers’. As a fly angler, or an angler in general, I feel that I am more so due to the unique relationship fly fishing has with conservation and the Natural Balance. The immortal echo of Thoreau has been mirrored in most every popular work on the subject of fly fishing, both literary and motion picture. Even recently April Vokey had an article in Fly Fusion about her ceasing to photograph the steelhead she brings in out of respect and conservation and trying to be more in the moment. And while I enjoy time on the water learning new techniques and methods, or even in competition, I agree that most of my reasoning for a trip to the river is to relax. I enjoy being able to stop and think about the world around me and take in the experience holistically. But I have never stopped to think about the backside of my hobby and how it affects my life.

Last month one of my Soldiers passed away. In his mid twenties he left behind a wife and two young boys, both under the age of 3. He was not a victim of an IED, or on the receiving end of an enemy AK-47, rather my brother and friend took his own life. While I know that I am not responsible for what he decided to do, I cannot help but feel that I could have done more. There is no denying that my job involves stress. And I have trained for years in some of the toughest schools to operate under that stress. What many don’t know is that there are too few programs that help Soldiers deal with the aftermath of a unique profession. (Fact is that I kill people for a living.) But if I had taken him out fishing, maybe he would have found some way to unload the pressures he was facing. Maybe he would still be here; taking his boys out on the weekends and starting another generation in this fine sport, de Mouche.

How these two come together is that I feel that fishing has enlightened my life, more than the thousands of dollars that I have spent in pursuit of sport. I haven’t had to sit and talk with a shrink, I meet many new and interesting friends, and I feel like I have accomplishments in my life that I am directly responsible for…goals that I can set for myself. I am glad to admit that I take a self-centered approach to my angling; I only wish I could pass my passion on to more people. I do not know if Ms. Vokey had ever thought that spreading the wealth of pictures that she has might do some good in getting more women into the sport, I would even say more men too! Not only does this grow the sport and in return conservation efforts through income, but it might enrich someone’s life, even to the point that it saves it.

I bet that there are many of you who can recall moments in the flow that have raised your blood pressure in both good and bad ways. The parents of you would also agree that your love for your children would prevent you from hurting them in any way. I am not an expert to conclude that fishing prevents suicide, but my guess is that fishing enriches your life beyond sweet smells, scenic views, and an adrenaline rush. We must ask ourselves what value we can put on something we have allowed to intertwine with the fabric of our lives. (No NOT Fruit of the Loom underwear.)

I spend about 100 days on the water since I am lucky enough to live in a river, lake, Puget Sound triangle. That is 100 days away from thinking about work. It is also 100 days away from my family. Some might say that is too much and that it is not worth it. You may be right, but I can tell you one thing, it is sure as hell less than a lifetime.
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  1. Old Comment
    Ard's Avatar
    Well that was a good piece of reading, I'm happy to have found my way to this and relate very well with what you have put forth in your words. I could say that fly fishing changed my life but in retrospect, it made my life. I hope you'll find time to post to threads when you feel like it.

    Posted 08-30-2013 at 02:34 PM by Ard Ard is online now

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