A LIGHT (BULB) IN THE DARK

The dictionary defines a paradox as a statement or concept that contains conflicting or apparently conflicting ideas.

Now, my fishin’ buddy, Sean and I have certainly recognized, and maybe even reveled just a little bit, in the fact that urban fly fishing qualifies as a paradox.

We’re OK with the common perception that fly rods somehow just don’t work in urban waters.

We have grown accustomed to the odd looks, strange questions, or the guy who walks up to us and plants himself next to us so he can give us long-winded explanations as to why flyfishing doesn’t work – even as we are pulling in Bass and Bluegill.

We’ve gotten used to the packs of kids running up to us and staring, the dogs on retractable leashes barking and snapping at our flies, the stroller joggers observing our back casts and yelling in that protective parent way to warn us that they are behind us with a child.

We already plan on giving away wooly buggers and short pieces of tippet in a somewhat self-serving act of charity that buys us a little peace and quiet and we are always on the watch for nefarious characters in the same way that our Alaskan wilderness counterparts always keep an eye out for grizzlies.

Yet, given the realities of our work schedules, our finances, our time commitments and the alternative, i.e., flyfishing only very occasionally, we have opted to adjust to the circumstances and be urban flyfishers.

To that end, we are always looking for new ways to engage, enjoy or enhance our chosen obsession.

Sometimes, paradoxically, new ways even find us.

Consider what happened to my fishin’ buddy, Sean, recently:

A few months ago Sean made an impromptu decision to stop at a small urban pond on the way home from the office to blow off a considerable amount of steam acquired after a particularly grueling business meeting.

As he stood there, in the dark, muttering and grumbling to himself and hurling a Krystal Bugger into the inky blackness, a couple of things happened:

One, his blood pressure began to drop back into the normal range;

Two, he began to catch fish and;

Three, he experienced a heightened sense of awareness that he had not felt before while flyfishing.

Now, I’m not talking about a sense of awareness like, “Oh crap, I’m standing by myself dressed in slacks, shirt and tie in the dark in a (hopefully) deserted urban park griping out loud to myself and waving a very expensive stick in the air… and no one knows where I am.”

No, I’m talking about a “gettin’ into the zone”—that heightened sense of awareness regarding the feel of the unfurling fly line on the back cast, the heightened sense of feeling that same line slide through the guides in a smooth forward cast and even the heightened sense of hearing for the subtle plop of the fly as it lands in the dark forty feet out in front.

Yeah, in that impromptu moment, Sean discovered flyfishing at night.

And therein lies part of the paradox.

Flyfishing is all about catching fish, for sure, but it is also an art form and as such, there are elements to it that one might consider “active meditation”.

I’m not going all mystical or anything. But almost every flyfisherman I know takes a subtle pleasure watching his or her line form a perfect tight loop and then lay out on the surface of the water in a perfect, straight line.

Almost every flyfisherman I know delights in watching for that subtle dimple in the surface as a trout or a wary urban carp quietly sips the carefully presented fly.

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