I remember fishing in Glen Canyon, Arizona, with Terry Gunn, owner of Lees Ferry Anglers many years ago… and he got to talking about how Lee Wulff (among other fly fishing icons) described the various life stages an angler goes through:
First, you just want to catch a fish.
Then, you want to catch a lot of fish.
Then you want to catch a big fish.
Then you want to catch a lot of big fish.
And then, once you’ve checked everything off the agenda… the cycle doesn’t end, it simply starts over. You find yourself in a place and time–maybe it’s a new adventure on a wild river, or maybe it’s just revisiting the home pool, perhaps with a son, daughter or a friend. And when all is said and done, all you really want to do is catch a fish.
Back when Terry described that to me, I remember thinking to myself that I was squarely in the “want to catch a lot of big fish” stage. For the record, Lees Ferry is a pretty fine spot to knock that off the to-do list.
This morning, on a whim, I decided to walk down to a pond I hadn’t fished in a couple years… figured I’d catch a few trout before the freeze sets in. As it turns out, I made a few casts, caught one fish, and feeling totally satisfied, cranked in the line and walked home.
I don’t think being in any particular place on the cycle is indicative of any higher level of zen-like enlightenment (especially in my case). It just is. All the stages are inherently wonderful, and should be enjoyed and appreciated as they happen. That is, after all why we fly fish…
So where are you?