Did You Catch Anything?

Did You Catch Anything?

“Did you catch anything?” How many times did I hear that walking the two miles back on the trail after flyfishing today. I don’t go to catch fish. I mean, not really. I go to surrender to the flow of clear water, feel the push and strength of the current against my legs, breathe the sweet air, watch the sunlight dancing on the surface after the fog clears. Yesterday I saw an otter as I sat on a rock in the middle of the creek. A successful flyfishing experience, for me, is just being there and allowing myself to drop into the rhythm of Nature. 

I cast my line and nymph (an underwater fly) into a beautiful little pool today and a huge trout leaped out of the water and hit my fluffy, white, wool strike indicator (a strike indicator is a flyfishing term for bobber). It was amazing! A bolt of silver and pink exploded and then disappeared. I didn’t catch her but that one strike made the three hours spent on Deep Creek double….no triple special. Fish are a fun part of the experience but I release them anyway and don’t use barbed hooks so most of them slip off before I land them (which is better for the fish so it’s fine with me).

I stumble verbally when people ask me if I caught anything because I am filled with wonder and delight and gratitude after time on the creek. It seems to lessen my experience if I say no, because that one question is all they want to know. It’s a pass/fail exam. Did you or did you not catch fish? 

I generally attempt a quick reply as we’re walking past each other. “No, but wow it was awesome. I had a trout leap out of the water and taste a blob of wool. Yesterday I saw an otter.” They hurriedly walk on giving a polite smile and muttering, “That’s nice.”

After much contemplation—which is considerable on a two-mile hike back to the car—I decided that to keep it simple I would tell the next person that asked, “Did you catch anything?” a quick, affirmative answer. I got my chance a few minutes later when a guy asked and I said, “Yes! It was amazing!!” and he replied with a shocked look, “REALLY!!!!???” I wanted to ask him, Why are you so surprised? Surely women catch fish in your reality.

And I didn’t really lie. I caught a tree limb, two blobs of leaves, my flyfishing boot, a submerged limb. Heck, I caught a LOT of stuff today. But mostly I caught peace…more peace that I have felt in a very long time.

I want to be able to express my utter joy of the experience of wading, sitting on rocks, casting a line, watching a trout magi elder burst forth from her pool…all of that is as good as catching a fish. With no exception. Now I know why they say people that fish are liars. Don’t make us lessen the experience by asking such a loaded question because to keep it simple we’re gonna say, Why I sure did. And boy was it a whopper!

I haven’t really come up with a quick and easy response to the dreaded-question but I look forward to spending much more time contemplating it as I wade the creeks and rivers around the mountains of Western North Carolina. If you see me just ask, “How’s it going?” That’s a much easier question to answer…. “FABULOUS!”

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