A Fly Fishing Reel

When the economy is tanking or the world is ending, what business booms? Bait and tackle shops. Why? Because one of the things we do as people in this country is fish. Even those of us who weren’t raised fishing or who aren’t good at it at all. There is something very therapeutic about pointing a stick at the water and waiting in silence.

My daughter loves fishing. She enjoys it mostly, I think, because she caught a fish her first time out and the fishing bug sunk itself deep into her. She can cast and wait and catch nothing for hours on end. I think it’s the same thing that gets gamblers: that next win is just one more try away.

For my part, I’ve caught plenty of fish. I’m a poor fisherman by any standard, but I enjoy it. The point is to be outside, near some water, and very quiet. Doesn’t hurt that fishing gear is fairly inexpensive (I’m no BASS MASTER!) and a license is cheap. But it can get expensive if you want by simply adding watercraft to the equation.

My family loves going out in boats. We like rowboats, canoes, and kayaks. We got inflatable kayaks for the kids, a paddle-board for my wife, and a fishing kayak for me. Why do I get the fancy boat? Because I’m what my friend kindly calls a “Country Gentleman” and need more buoyancy, thanks for asking.

I doubt that we’ll catch any more fish as we paddle around the lake than we did from the shore, but it frees us up to have different kinds of fun if some of us are more serious about contemplating the shadows under the water than others.

What is all of this, really? A way to get out of the house/compound as the summer drags on into autumn and the current situation stretches into a horizon we can’t see or navigate. It’s a challenge. Being out in a boat alone and having to make your own choices. Is it some kind of subconscious grasping at control? Or is it a palliative? A way to forget the world because all there is in front of you is the bow, the water, and the next stroke of the paddle. Resisting the urge to make this too Hemingway-esque, but there is truth to what we do in the outdoors. Whether it’s hiking, fishing, boating, or camping. There is an element of testing and control.

I’ll dip my paddle in the water this weekend. Push off and see how it goes. No expectations aside from a little quiet.

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