My best friends are all fishermen. Looking back over four decades, I see the trend, and it’s those souls who’ve shared the woods and water who are closest to my heart. Our time on the water bonds. It sews meaningful friendships. Shared exploration brings us together as we search for new paths — for freedom to roam and find our way. Then we’re anxious to share these discoveries with one another.
Trust is built upon these waters — we have deeper faith in river friends, and we’re stronger for the common adventures, side by side. Time and water merge, and friendships grow from the union. It’s here that we share success, or we find failure and confusion together. Ghost-trout plant new mysteries with their absence, and the common goal of solving new puzzles keeps our interactions alive and purpose driven.
Maybe it’s the way a river-walk seems to welcome a shared silence. I’ve taken friends who know nothing of the fly rod or a trout, and I’ve seen them marvel at the beauty of a trout stream, hypnotized by the sights, sounds and smells of running water in a wooded valley.
It’s the ferns. The Hemlocks. Moss. Giant snowflakes on a forest floor of dried and fallen Sycamore leaves. These things welcome the reverie of silence. Distractions fade, and our need for sentences dissolves. Connections like these are formed out of thin air — from air that’s alive with the mist of broken water. And as we breath the river together, these moments are planted deep in our genetic fabric, embedded and passed on, strong enough that this drive, this pull to the water, endures for generations. The seed is planted.
I’ve walked the woods and waters with my father, my uncle and my grandfather. Now I share these places with my oldest son, who sees the intricacies of the tactical game of fly fishing as I do. And I share these places with my youngest son, who sinks deep into nature to experience these environs like I’ve rarely seen before. These days, I roam the rivers with an Australian Shepard who is four months old. I did the same with a Border Collie for fourteen years. The purity of such a bond is the same for us all. And at the end of each day, our deepest memories have the sound and the feeling of rushing waters around our legs.
Through all my life, these watery paths and the lonely forests accompanying them have offered me a respite — a place to escape a world full of people. And all the while, these same rivers have enabled my deepest connections with a few of those people.
Fish hard, friends.
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Enjoy the day.
T R O U T B I T T E N