Thursday, October 30, 2008

Football and Fishing

My husband, Seth and I have a few running jokes when it comes to football. He actually likes to watch the games... I just like to listen to all the cliches the players, coaches and sports announcers say in their interviews. It's always "we gotta take it one day at a time" and "you gotta give em a lot of credit," etc. It makes me laugh every time.

Seth and I just finished taking a fly fishing class that centered on nymphing. My limited experience in fly fishing up to that point involved only dry flies and I'd found it to be very enjoyable. I was sure after taking the class that I would be the most amazing fly fisher in the world. Or, at least the best woman fly fisher and thus end up getting my own television show, fancy equipment, and a lifetime of all-expense paid fishing trips around the world. Then I'd design my own line of high-end fly fishing gear for women and watch the profits and acclamations roll in. Unrealistic? Nah.

The last part of the class was a field trip up on the Weber River in Utah to practice everything that Navi, our instructor had taught us. The actual field trip wasn't until Saturday, so Seth and I decided to go practice at the designated fishing spot before we went with the class. On Wednesday evening when I got home from work, we drove up Weber Canyon to the Devil's Slide area to fish. Seth had actually driven up to Devil's Slide on Monday to check out the spot and was raving all week about the hoards of Whitefish and Browns he'd seen. When I first got out of the car and looked over the railing down at the deep green holes of clear swirling water, I knew we were going to catch a million fish.

Now as a background, I rarely ever get skunked, especially on rivers. However, I had fished the Weber River several times before and had always been skunked. Not even so much as a nibble. The Weber had become my nemesis, and tonight I was going to conquer it. I was going to make it beg for mercy. The main difference with dry fly fishing and nymphing is a couple split shot weights on the line. You've got to get that bug to the bottom of the river so the lazy fish sitting down there will eat it. I had never tried casting with weights on my line, so needless to say my first few casts were pretty ugly. Instead of the usual smooth, tight loops and straight graceful layout onto the water, the end of my line flew into the river with a haphazard spinning dive. Seth was nice enough to give me some tips though, so after his instruction my cast improved significantly.

Navi had instilled the belief in us that we'd be getting bites on every cast. Every twitch or movement of the strike indicator was a fish, not a snag. I had never used a strike indicator so was not quite sure what a real bite would look like. So, following directions from Navi, I set the hook every time I saw the strike indicator move. I don't know how many times I 'set the hook', but I can tell you that it was never a fish. Seth and I became more and more discouraged as the evening wore on. We kept our distance from each other and silently fumed with agitation. We could see several fish swimming around that would periodically jump, just to taunt us.

Towards the end of the night I set the hook once again and felt resistance. I was sure I had yet another snag. To my surprise my line began moving around and I realized it was a fish! I yelled to Seth that I'd caught one just as the fish jumped off my hook. I never got a good look at it and I didn't get it close enough to even see which one of my flies it'd taken. We ended the trip with my one bite and Seth getting skunked. Before this trip we had done pretty well on all of our fishing excursions. Now, we couldn't catch a fish to save our lives.

On the way home that night we reflected on our experience. Because we had gotten all riled up thinking we'd be catching fish on every cast, we hadn't enjoyed fishing like we normally did. Instead of screening the river for bugs first and catering to the fish like usual, we had fixated ourselves on the idea that nymphing was the way to go and nothing would work better. We realized how inflexible we'd been... thinking that we were already all-knowing professional fly fishers.

Just like anything you practice doing, you're going to have your good days and your bad days. Greatness doesn't come easy; it takes a lot of hard work, patience and perseverance. You gotta take it one day at a time and always remember... to give 'em a lot of credit.


Seth said...

Lol... that was really good Karen... made me laugh and was very entertaining. You are especially good at conveying emotion. :-)

Rachel said...

I actually REALLY like that career path idea of yours. You should begin by submitting submitting fishing stories to Field and Stream and suchlike mags...

heidi said...

Your opening paragraph made me laugh! Yes, right out loud. My hubbie and I can't get enough of those ridiculous football announcers.
I loved the structure of your piece, coming back to the football-truisms thing at the end.
I loved "Unrealistic? Nah." Cute, funny... and who hasn't been there??

I think the world is in desperate need of sexier fishing gear for women.

The thing I think was most profound was that bit about getting caught up, fixated on concepts and expectations about what "should" be happening and losing feel for what you intuitively know and sense (and usually do!).

I think just cuz of the hilarious football opening, and the "fixations" thing, this will probably be my fav. for a long time to come! Must be nice to start strong.

Admiringly, Heidi

Paul said...

I read this post at Heidi's suggestion and enjoyed it very much. I actually appreciated the beginning the most, I think. It reminded me of something David Foster Wallace once said about tennis, something like "people say you can 'use the whole court' which is a cliche in tennis that can mean any number of things." I guess I enjoy the non-specificity and random association that sometimes comes with language. Is that an odd comment? :)