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Don With Rainbow


The question of why we fish is as complicated as the sport itself.  The answer cannot be compiled in a short concise paragraph for the reasons are as varied and as complex as those sophisticated independent individuals that share its intrigue.  What is seemingly meaningless to some may be the compelling inspiration of another.  Nevertheless, I shall attempt to reduce to paper and ink some reasons why this is one of the things I enjoy most in life.  Maybe some of the ideas here, you too share.

 First, at least for me, fly fishing has been an evolutionary process.  A good deal of that process was captured by John Barrett in a piece called “River Why.”  My love of mountains and streams has existed as long as I can remember.  To me the wonder of mountains and streams far exceeds anything man could create.  So, I always wanted to spend my time surrounded by this splendor rather than cities or amusement parks, as some prefer.  Something man has made could never compare to God’s creation.  And some of His creation is so marvelously spectacular the limitations of human language truly prevent its description.  He knew that when He placed trout there.

Next, I have always loved doing things that require skill and knowledge.  Unlike some fishing methods, being a good fly fisherman requires a level of skill and knowledge.  Now, it is not my intention to degrade a fishing method chosen by someone else.  Fly fishing is not the only complex and demanding type of fishing.

So, don’t get your “hackle” up, unless you intend to join me in tying a fly.  But, the amount to be learned in fly fishing is as endless as the number of streams.  Each stream seems to carry its own unique trademark which is why I have flies in my fly box that I do not recognize and do not remember which unique aquatic ecosystem they were acquired for – a topic for further elaboration in another writing.  Gaining the knowledge and skill required gratifies my desire for challenge and self-improvement.

The process is simple yet complex, solitary yet shared, never-ending yet complete, and in the end, pure.  You cast a small dry fly to a seam in clear, crisp rushing water just below a plunge pool.  You use all your skill attempting to make a delicate drop of the fly.  Just as the fly lands gently on the water, sometimes it seems before it hits the water, you see an eruption from the seam.  One of nature’s sleek torpedoes has attacked. You instinctively raise the rod to set the hook.  The fish darts and leaps and swims frantically, not knowing you just want to play with him for a short time.  You feel the tug of the fish on your Temple Fork Outfitters three weight rod coupled with the Orvis Battenkill Bar Stock One reel and delight in the excitement.  You land, admire his beauty and resilience, and release him, thanking him for sharing his spirit and beauty.  Certainly, the “tug on the line” is a great part of the joy of fly fishing.

Finally, I have this desire boiling deep within my soul.  It is a desire that is filled by this grand sport.  Mountains and streams call to me.  They entice me to join them as I hear their whispers on a daily basis.  When I am there, the burning in my soul is eased.  For that brief span of time, I am real.  I blend into that which I love.  I am home and peace envelops me.  The visual beauty and sound of water rushing through the freestones seeking its home tells me welcome.  And selecting flies, casting, and hooking fish brings me into this real world - the only real world.  For that brief twinkle of time, I become a part of that which I love.  It is in me, and I am part of the natural world.  While it never lasts, I can carry it with me.  I can recall those feelings and visions and return in my daydreams.  I thank God for memory and mountains, streams and trout.


Don Winningham


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