Saturday, September 17, 2005

Fly Fishing and other unnatural acts

The Big One in Wyoming, originally uploaded by drtaxsacto.

As noted in the earlier post, I have been in Wyoming for the past week beginning to learn how to fly fish. It is something I have been encouraged to do by a couple of friends who are very much into it. On the first day I was there I caught what turned out to be the second biggest fish of the week. But that is really a back story not worth telling. (OK 22 1/2", a twenty minute battle of finesse, yada yada, yada - one of the benefits of technology is that you can now be sure to document your fish stories!)

As noted I was a rookie among the group that I went with, so the rest of the week, I looked and listened. What intrigues me about the sport is its mix of at least three elements - it seems to take some physical skill, some intellectual mastery and a willingness to be in absolutely beautiful surroundings. (The last one is not that tough to take.) A lot of the physical part of the game requires concentration and patience - nothing is rushed. A good many of the moves seem counterintuitive when they are first presented. But by the end of the week, I was beginning to see why skills were done the way they were and even beginning to incorporate the right technique into the delivery. That does not mean I have mastered them but at least I think I see what I am doing wrong and am beginning to have a sense of what it feels like to do it right.

I had the fortune of having a guide (or actually a set of guides) with me on each outing. They really add to the experience. They know where the fish are. They can coach your technique. On Thursday morning I went with one who spent part of the morning showing me a lot about what to look for (and there is a lot). We spent about an hour looking at the water, talking about the life cycle of the bugs that trout eat (which is remarkably short), about water conditions in a river or a stream, about how the water is oxygenated, about how sunlight and temperature affects the interest of the fish to eat, about spawning and a raft of other things.

Of the four guides that I had the opportunity to go with each had a slightly different approach. The guide in this picture is a famous one named Bob Lamm. He is a great coach - very patient. But he is also subtle - he keeps adding new twists in manageable steps. Another had an enthusiasm that was contagious. The morning I went with him, he showed his true love for his profession - although we also talked about his off season where he does something completely different. A third had a slight edge to his style but also imparted a lot of knowledge to the couple of hours I spent with him. The fourth pushed even a bit more but again at the end of the day, I think I progressed.

In the end the four days were a mix of great experiences, good conversation and a couple of times of downright thrill.

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