We Wade

by | Apr 29, 2020 | 21 comments

The best fishing trips begin with a walk. When our boot laces are tied and the wader straps are buckled, a journey into the morning fog of the canyon begins. A good walk streamside clears the mind, releasing anxieties and the questions of a life left back at the truck — and beyond. Walking through the floodplain among sparse hemlocks and ferns fills us with hope. And it reaffirms our eager, innocent belief that today we’ll catch a legendary fish.

The walk is preparation. It is contemplation. It warms our blood and replaces every remaining chill with vigor. It loosens stiff limbs and stretches our legs. As each step lands on the soft ground we’re in touch with the earth below. We scan the forest and notice the details: mayfly wings in spiderwebs, watery starlings active streamside, a trio of rises at the tailout, and the dark shadow of a trout streaking away from the undercut bank as we pass above. These signs merge with our intuition, until eventually, something urges us to leave the borders of the bank and wade into the river to begin anew.

We wade for the feel of it, for the sensory return while we’re an active part of the river itself. Because we are in the water, we push waves and move currents. Wading a river places us inside the system that we love so much — what we long for and dream about for so long. What we have anticipated, now we are part of once again. Our boots touch the same rocks where trout reside. Our legs feel the swirl of currents that carry life to those trout — oxygen and food, all mixed and passing at varying speed. A timeless procession of resources in the flow, and we’re part of it all.

We wade for exhaustion and strength. These two states mix in our body. Because there is no satisfaction like having weary, river-worn legs while sitting in the easy chair back home, with visions of the river dancing in our short, vivid memory.

We wade for the challenge, for the endless surge of water against our body. It trickles over our boots in a skinny riffle. And it pushes against our hips as we cross pocket water. We challenge and cooperate with the river all at once.

We wade for the risk. Because we know that a misstep may wash away our balance and take us downstream. Whether the free ride is a few yards down current or around the next bend, we meet the possibility of a rightful soaking and feel alive for taking the chance.

We wade for the opportunity. Because careful positioning among the flow places us within perfect range of endless targets — and because those targets are seen in greater detail at these angles. Because refining our presentation and approach with subtle nuance is a joyful complexity to this game, accomplished only at this level. Because a fishing life is dedicated to the details. And discovering them deeply is best learned with our boots on the ground.

Wet and waterlogged, exhausted and weary, we wade extra miles and return through dim twilight. This is why we wade.

Fish hard, friends.

READ: Troutbitten | Full Days

 

Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky
T R O U T B I T T E N
domenick@troutbitten.com

 

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Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

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21 Comments

  1. I wade because its the only way to hunt for heads and stalk down bank sippers; to find those subtle surface eats that drift boaters never even notice. I wade because it allows me to fish with patience and well into the dark instead of being compelled to get to the take out way too soon.

    Reply
  2. I wade because some day I will not be able to, because of old age or infirmities yet to come. I wade because someday I will no longer be here, although I hope my spirit lives on. I wade because it washes away my sins. I wade because I can, I wade to live!

    Reply
  3. I don’t like fishing from any kind of water craft because I feel constrained. For me, wading is freedom.

    Reply
    • Exactly

      Reply
    • So well said. Thank you!

      Reply
  4. I like wading to get totally engrossed in the river. The sounds, feel and sight soothes my soul.

    Reply
  5. Incredibly well written. WOW!

    Reply
  6. In addition to the other great reasons for wading stated here, wading upstream against a decent current does WONDERS for my occasional lower back pain issues.

    Reply
    • Really, Louie? That’s cool, but strange to me. After a day of scrambling over rocks and fighting current my back is more sore than doing yard work. Getting on my bike makes my back feel better, oddly enough.

      Reply
  7. Can’t beat ’em, join them.

    Reply
  8. One of your best. Really.

    Reply
  9. Beautifully written. Certainly gives one pause to comtemplate the physical and spiritual benefits from wading. I wonder how many have waded without a fishing rod in hand? That might be truly magical. Thank you for the journey.

    Reply
  10. So thanks to your idea, Dom,I got a wading staff. I used it for the first time yesterday and I love it (I used your links for the staff and gear keeper, btw). I got it to use in a particular bit of dangerous stream I have to cross to get to some prime water, but it helps everywhere, not just in the dangerous parts of the stream. It really reduces missteps and the resulting jolts and bumps your body takes as a result, even if you don’t fall.

    Question: Do you leave the zip-tie and staff on your belt all the time, even when you take your waders off?

    Reply
    • Hi.

      Good question.

      No. I simply unsnap it at the Gear Keeper link.

      Make sense?

      Dom

      Reply

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