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.
10 thoughts on “Yes, Doctor Salvelinus Will See You Now….”
Nicely said, Geoff. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings in such a personal way…
Thank you for reading Fred. I’m so glad you enjoyed and appreciated the message of the piece. It’s an honor and a pleasure to share with you all.
I don’t know how many times I’ve just sat on the side of a river with a big smile, just thankful.
I could not agree more Bob, thank you for reading!
Geoff buddy, tremendous piece there ! So much truth to what you wrote, thank you for sharing this. Now to find a couple wild brookie spots near me on the north shore… 🙂
Thank you for reading and commenting Steve. I’m glad to know enjoyed and identified with the piece. It’s March, it’s almost time to get back in the water!
” it is more than catching fish”……you realized this fact quick quickly, and that’s what makes your adventures so rewarding. Well done friend.
Yet another thing we have in common. Already looking forward to the next time our paths cross. The 5’ 3wt is ready for your inspection!
Geoff, what a wonderful write up on the benefits of fly fishing, and especially relating it to your personal situation. I can certainly relate to what I read here tonight. There is nothing like it, and when I am out there it is just me, the river, and the fish. I get into some kind of different zone. When I am fishing there is absolutely nothing else on my mind even when I am sitting on the bank looking for risers.
Sam, I thank you for taking the time to read, and I am vwry glad to hear you enjoy and identify with the subject matter. The meditative, zen-like state achievable through fly-fishing (often in combination with therapy of some other kind), is truly unique and I don’t know what I would do without it in my life.
Until next time, be well, and tight lines!