Monday, November 8, 2010

In Praise of Stillwaters

There is something about lake fishing with a sinking line that I find completely unique and exhilarating. Don’t get me wrong, I prefer dry flies but I am no snob. I’ll take what the defense gives me. Still, there is just something about bobbing on the surface of a lake—be it in a float tube or a boat or whatever—with the fly and line plunged to the heart of the deep below. You feel a connection to absolutely nothing while the fly is underwater. You cannot see it. You can only feel the resistance of the water as you strip. And a slow strip, well it almost feels weightless. So there you are, one man with one (or two) flies in this massive expanse of water—the featureless disc as Gierach called it.

Sometimes, in that situation I can’t help but feel a little bit like I am fishing in a proverbial haystack with a proverbial needle. There is so much water, and my little fly is somewhere down there like whisper in a windstorm. I think it’s the lack of sensory attachment that does it. All other forms of fly fishing have some visual component to focus on: the fly, the indicator (be it some bit of yarn or the tip of the fly line), even with a streamer in a river you’ve got the water (and the features of the surface) to look at (not too mention the fly line and the likely spots where trout might be waiting. But on a lake, with a sunken fly, you could almost fish with your eyes closed once you have determined that you are in a fishy spot. Its just you and that never-ending surface and what lies beneath. And when the take finally comes, you go from nothing to, well, everything.

That moment of the take is almost surreal, especially on a slow day when you have spent plenty of time casting and retrieving, hooking only the occasional mass of moss. So much of the day is spent disconnected that a good hard take will almost make you call out in surprise and will certainly race your heart. One moment is sheer emptiness, and just a one breath later you are connected to the electric head shake of a trout and the once silent lake is alive beneath you.

I love that.

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