After spending months taking classes and researching the sport through a friend, classes, internet and books I decided it was time to try this on my own. I had no idea where to go, so I decided that the Caddis Fly shop in Eugene would be the best resource for safe productive fishing. At the shop they gave me a map of the Middle Fork and came up with many safe wading recommendations. They also helped supply me with a rented rod and the flies necessary for fishing in July at this particular section of the river.
With the gear in hand I went home and packed a back pack full of the items I needed for a day of fly fishing. Fly rod, flies, fly line, fishing license, sneakers, extra clothes, baseball cap, water, peanut butter sandwich and sunscreen. I researched the water levels/flow levels through an informative website so I wouldn’t get hung up in a bad situation. That evening my mind raced as I went through all the lessons of fly fishing I had. How to safely bring a fish you hook in, how to release it back into the river with no harm, what flies to use, how to look at the river and see where the best riffle and holding holes for the fish were.
Driving up the highway, the sky was a brilliant blue with big white puffy clouds slowly drifting by. I watched the river to the east of me and looked to the west of me to see what mile marker I was at so I wouldn’t miss my turn.
I arrived at Black Canyon and parked. I prepared the fly rod at my car in the midst of the tall pine trees that let off a pine perfume as the sun was shone down on them. Looking forward to getting to the river to see how many fish I could catch, I got everything ready for my hike down the path.
It didn’t take long for me to decide where I wanted to begin casting. I dropped my gear and got the rod ready to cast. I was finally ready to catch my first fish. I walked up to the river’s edge and made my first cast, trying to keep good form. Everything almost seemed in slow motion as my line hit the water. It was hypnotic watching the fly floating down the river. The second cast was even more so, I noticed the sound of the river rolling over the rocks. The third cast I noticed the colors of green and grey on the other side of the river, the contrasting colors between the river rocks and the grass growing on the bank. I decided to pick up my things and move down the river.
Now I noticed the different pace of the river, not like the first place I stopped. It was rolling a bit slower and around an edge on the bank and over an old tree that had fallen into the water. I decided to step in so I could get the fly further out on the river. The cold water hitting my feet was shocking at first and then refreshing. I cast the fly over and over, each time to a new spot.
It didn’t matter that I wasn’t catching a fish I was taking in everything the river had to offer me. The reflection of the sun glistening on the water, the shadow of the trees hitting the bank, the eagle perched in the tree across for me hunting for the same fish I was searching for.
I felt a twinge in my stomach, so I stepped back to the bank to get a bite of sandwich and a sip of water. While I ate my sandwich I noticed the first people I had seen all day. I think they had been there as long as me, but I was so taken by the hypnotic river, I never noticed them. They walked by me and asked if I had any luck. I replied, “no”, but that it didn’t matter.
See it didn’t matter to me because I noticed something much more than the sport and game of fishing. Something I had only heard described by a few people in all my lessons and research. I noticed the beauty and greatness of everything around me. I had a sense of overwhelming peace and respect. All the problems of work, family and just day-to-day life had been swept away with the riffles on the water. I had no worry of anything.
I didn’t fish much longer after I had sat on the bank, as the sun was sinking further behind the mountains. I packed up my gear into the car and changed into some dry shoes. Soon I noticed there were many people around me, swimming, fishing, camping, laughing and I had not seen them there before.
I decided to walk back down to the river’s edge just to take one last look. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t in a dream as it seemed so surreal. I smiled, verbally thanked the river and walked back to my car knowing that I was one of the ones that got it.
It wasn’t about putting the right fly on my line, casting the perfect cast, catching a large fish; it was about the sanctuary of the river and all it beholds. It was about the trees, the wind, the puffy white clouds and smell of the water hitting the dry rocks. It was the eagle in the tree sounding off to his family and the butterflies flying fluttering around me.