Flies Ready For The Stream

Way over due for a posting.  I’ve had my nose way into my recording and writing.  Lots to do and only me to do it.  Actually that’s not too bad.  I finished a song for Mike Oak that he and Sky Saxon of The Seeds started just before Sky died.  Mike liked it which made me very happy.  I am trying to record another CD and getting some merch ready to sell at shows.  However, last week and this I decided to put in some time fly fishing on the Russian River which runs past my house.  The following is a reflection that came to me as I fished in fog and sun for six days.

Today I spent the day on the Russian River with a bamboo fly rod. The water moved past me without hurry, but with the expectation of meeting the sea. There were fish in the stream, and I hooked five. I catch and release, so they went back in. In the morning the sun was cloaked in fog and the fog followed the ebb and flow of the river. Around 11:00am the sun made its presence fully known.

There is a rhythm in the life and lives around this river. There is a movement in the fish community that follows the hatching mayflies and caddis flies that themselves are living and dying according to rhythms of temperature. There are small birds who, like the fish, have lives subject to the water. Heron and egret hunt their respective prey, and vultures lurk for remnants.

Into this mix I intrude with a fly rod and line. Or do I? Is this an intrusion, or is it more of a taking my place within the riparian cycles of stream and shore? I know that when I take the time to be present here, I feel a security of fitting in with the living and dying of those around me.

The rod and the line are worked by arm, elbow, and shoulder, and done properly the fly at the end of the line presents as a real insect, and fools the fish momentarily–sometimes just long enough to place the hook in its lip. A struggle occurs in which my finesse and the instinct of the fish combat for catch and for freedom. Sometimes I win. Most times the fish is victorious.

There are endless lessons for me in this exercise, that apply to all aspects of my life. I learn on this river, and on all rivers I have fished. While there are many lessons, the key lesson I have learned, and continue to learn, is my place in the order of things. And, there is both comfort and discomfort in the lesson. I learn that I am not actually at the top of the food chain, for there is truly no hierarchy. I learn that rather that being a food chain, it is a chain of life, linked into a circlet. I am not apart, but part of. Each creature’s struggle is my struggle. All death is my death. I have learned on the rivers I fish that at the heart, there is no place, exempt from the beauty and from the violence and the joy and the struggle that is life.


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