I suspect that I am not the only one among our readership who has found fly fishing and actively uses it as a form of self-therapy. There is something about how this incredible past-time allows us to connect more deeply, not only with nature, but with ourselves, that makes it truly special.
Whether on the quick pre- / post-work outing to one’s favorite local hole, or a more involved sojourn to lands far away and full of fish, the time one gets to spend even thinking about fishing is a unique pleasure that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
As I have been working to cope with an interesting series of life events (to put it politely), I continue to find solace in fly fishing and my time outside. I wanted to share some thoughts I’ve been having on the subject and I could think of no better venue or audience than here, with you.
I was first intrigued by fly fishing back in the winter of 2015. Having fished maybe half-a-dozen times in my life up until that point, I thought fly fishing would be good for me. I had just spent the previous seven years (’07-’14) up in Vermont (four for college, three trying to find work and waiting for my significant other to graduate) mountain biking, snowboarding, hiking, getting into rock climbing…but, not fishing oddly enough.
Shortly after making the move back to Massachusetts, my mother was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer and made the decision to move to Florida. Of course, this was upsetting to me, and I struggled to accept the situation, even breaking off contact for years at one point because I felt I was lied to with respect to my mother’s health and how much time she had left.
Understandably, not feeling like I could trust my dying mother left me with a lot to think about and process. Now, whereas I could not go biking, snowboarding, or engage in most any other pursuit I had had while up in Vermont, I felt a new enterprise had to be chosen, something that got me outside and moving.
Enter the fly rod….
I never thought I would be an angler, but after moving to Lowell and finding the canal system and fish therein, it was clear what had to be done. No one in my family “fished” before me, so I took to Reddit, and after taking some time to research, I got my first 9’ six-wt. and started chasing bass and sunfish.
This was all well and good, but I swiftly found myself wanting more. It wasn’t before long that I was traversing north, south, east and west in search of anything and anything that could bend a fly rod.
Whether it was the fact that I had already found an engaged and supportive community of anglers ready to help and answer questions through the Orvis Fly Fishing Blog, Reddit, and more, or the fact that within weeks of picking up my rod in the spring of 2016, I was already catching more fish than I ever had with spinning lures or bait, I knew then that I had made the right choice.
From the very beginning, it was clear that fly fishing was about so much more than just catching fish. Fly fishing was about strategizing, thinking critically of one’s situation (literal and figurative), being acutely observant of the world around you, tuning the minutiae of the every day and just existing in the moment. I loved all that.
Where I had/have so many different things going on in my life at a given moment, knowing I can (almost) always get away to the water for some peace of mind, makes it all that much better. Whether I find peace and focus in the woods of Central MA, on the streets and canals of Lowell, or on the beaches and estuaries of the North and South Shore, any body of water can be your figurative analyst’s couch, and each trip can be an opportunity to not only explore nature but yourself.
All the above information aside, I would not use fly fishing in place of an analyst/consultant/ therapist, etc. These lives we lead are not easy, and the importance of having a genuine professional to talk to when things get hard cannot be understated. Speaking from experience on this one.
So, whether you are already or are currently thinking of becoming an angler, all I can say is that you’re making the right choice. Fly fishing is a truly exceptional past-time, and really, lifestyle, and I cannot imagine my life without it.
If you want to know just how therapeutic my trips can be, I am currently booking trips for wild trout, carp, and striper, all wading, all catch and release, all on the fly. Shoot me a message at [email protected] for more information!
Until then, take care, be well, and tight lines.