For March the QE Journal offers another stirring work by river gypsy Shawn Chalker.
Shawn writes of a fine addiction many of us know all too well.
Your goal might have been to get back to letting your family know you're still alive. You're sorry a little bit for all the time you've spent away, promising you would call next time you're out. But what you must know is fly-fishing is an incurable disease. Doctors don't have the slightest idea how to treat it, besides telling you to go fishing more often. Eventually they give in also and join the boys down at the local watering hole. There, the stories are endless and they are told into the middle of the night. Memories are treasured things and are all stored in the appropriate places, but for a dyed-in-the-wool fly fishing guru it is much, much more than that.
"And, yes, we do tend to drink too much of the water."
Some say we've gone insane and, yes, we do tend to drink too much of the water. For long periods we stand waist-deep in a cold, crystal river trying as we might to become one with nature. Words cannot even begin to describe the true beauty of fly fishing and nature. We are maniacal little creatures; the beaver spends his days whittling away on wood, as fly fishermen we whittle our days looking for that next bridge to cross. We neglect everything in life that is supposed to be important – our families, our relationships, and some of us, our jobs. We tie flies looking for the next Judas that will trick a fish into thinking, "Hey, that looks good enough to eat."
At the first light of dawn you glide into the river and tie on a size #20 Blue Winged Olive that took you five minutes to make. You strip out enough line and you wiggle your rod a little to loosen up the muscles and get a firm grip on the cork. Then you take a deep breath and proceed to pick line up from the water to throw your first cast. Three beautiful false casts later you're in the brush across the stream!
This is the life of a fly-fisherman. You spend the whole day without a hook-up or even see a fish rise. After a long day on the river you're exhausted from all of the casts you've made and your shoulder aches. But nothing can remove that permanent smile from your face as you drive home and wonder in the back of your mind what kind of story you can come up with to tell your buddies when you get there.
Shawn Chalker is a religiously devout fly fisherman and fly tyer who calls Royal Oak, Michigan, his home base. He has fished in every part of the United States and occasionally fishes Ireland and Scotland.
This is Shawn's 2nd contribution to The QE Journal.