Sunday, August 14, 2011

Halloween Water

"You can be whoever you want tonight." That's the line spoken to every doubting fool who doesn't take advantage of Halloween. It's the opportunity to pretend, to explore, and to fool others more than yourself that makes Halloween a grown-up's night. The children, though, are the ones who take that chance and make it the most it can be.

We all know that if we are to be successful on any given stream, we have to play by the stream's rules. The water--and her fish--decide whether we fish streamers or nymphs, whether we wade deep or stalk along the bank, whether we see what lives below the surface or remain blind to what lurks there. What comes with the hard-earned hours of being an "experienced" fly fisherman isn't the ability to always catch fish or even catch a few big fish--it's knowing that once you make the decision to fish this right here water, you are deciding to submit to its lifestyle and attitude. The trick then, is to know how to do that. The treat, if you do, is the opportunity to become someone else for just a while. You have to be who the stream is necessitating you to be. It's Halloween.

I think we all have our favorite water. Water that either is constantly calling us back, or water that we feel especially comfortable in, or even water that haunts us with challenges that have the proven ability to get the better of us. We're human, and humans choose favorites. I have my favorite which stands above my list of other waters I love. The odd thing about it is...I've only been in it twice. There is no question in my mind, though; that is my favorite stream.

I've held a theory for a while now that the streams that we are drawn to the most, and those that we are most likely to call "favorite," are streams that ultimately--perhaps indescribably--represent analogs of our own self. There is enough about life and my self in life that I do not understand; sometimes its simply "nice" to walk up on a place that is more like yourself than you knew to be true 30 seconds prior. It's a bit like going to the costume store for Halloween and seeing one labeled, "Me" and having a chance to see--and be--yourself as you really are. Stream water is brutally honest and we want to know what it has to say. Ultimately, I think that is the best reason why, as fisherman, we love hearing stories of others', but would rather be there ourselves.

When I was on that stream, and why I think about going back there, it was exactly like putting on a "Me" costume and then having fun finding where all the pockets are...knowing I've never been more myself. There are other streams that, because they have demanding rules just the same, allow me to be any number of different types...different costumes for the day. When I want to visit a place that not only inspires the core of myself to be just that--a "Me"--but inspires me to listen and look and be challenged long after I leave...then I think of my favorite water.

Some of you may have no idea what I'm talking about and think I'm drunk or just a complete crazy. Maybe you think I love "fishing" so much that I make it to be more than it really is. Maybe you think that my "obsession" has twisted my brain. A few of you, though, do know what I'm talking about and have been nodding your heads for the past five minutes. You've been to the water that hands you your "Me" costume with that first step inside. know.

Take care of that water because in some very real and very fragile way, you are bound to it. The Odyssean scenes that race before your eyes when you are surrounded by that favorite water are worth learning. When you are there,'s Halloween and you are dressed up as who you may not yet know yourself to be. Find out where all those pockets are while you can.


  1. Very well said. Thanks for saying it.

  2. I think this is beautiful writing. Standing in 'my' stream, is like standing inside my head. "Take care of that water because in some very real and very fragile way, you are bound to it." Thank you for writing this.

  3. Erin, you are welcome! It had been a while since I had a chance to write about the "why" of fishing; it was great to have a chance to think about it and understand a little better why I do love it so much.

  4. Please to find your blog today, will follow.

  5. It's nice when you find that "me" piece of water. I appreciate that every time I get back on my favorite stretch. Nicely written and great analogy.