Fly fishing will probably never be seen as an aerobic sport as far as the health and fitness crowd are concerned.
But, that is only because they have never been urban flyfishin’.
I can personally attest to the pulse-raising benefits of out-running a pair of junkyard Rottweillers – while not breaking your beloved 5-weight.
I can also confirm the cardio workout that occurs when one must traverse a drainage ditch, scale a couple of fences, swing from a pliable but sturdy willow branch then scramble down a 100-foot gravel embankment– all while not breaking your beloved 5-weight.
I can further attest to the sweat-inducing, full-range of motion that occurs each time you must pull yourself from a waist deep mud hole you just stepped in or from boosting yourself or your fishing buddy over eight-foot high retaining walls or lowering yourself and/or your fishin buddy down a crumbling undercut – all while not breaking your beloved 5-weight.
There is a reason virtually no fly fishin’ gear is made out of spandex or lycra.
Add to all the above, the heart-thumpin’-body-as-tense-as-a-watch-spring workout that occurs each and every time you breathlessly wait for that two-foot long Carp to finally hit the Wooly Bugger he has been trailing for the last forty-five feet and I’d say that urban fly fishin’ ought to rank right up there as an Olympic event.
It’s a least as hard as…curling.
But, I digress.
Sometimes, fly-fishing can give you a cardio workout when you ain’t even near the water.
Consider, the following conversation that occurred just a couple of weekends ago:
(Cell phone rings)
“Hey Sean, what’s up?”
“Hey Dan, what are the symptoms of snake bite?”
“Where you at?”
“Drivin’ home from West Fork. I think I may have been snake bit.”
(Pulse starting to rise)
“Stepped over a rock instead of on it and felt something jab my calf. I thought I heard something scurry away but didn’t actually see a snake.”
“Any breaks in the skin?”
“One small one plus it’s pretty red and hard around the area. It hurts a lot too. I washed it off in the river and I used my bite kit right away.”
(Pulse continuing to rise.)
“You feeling nauseous or dizzy?”
“Not really. A little stressed and I have a funny taste in my mouth.”
(A couple of beads of sweat begin to form on my brow, heart rate continues to rise)
“All right. How far are you from home? Do you have any Benedryl?”
“Only about five miles now. Yeah, I took two Benedryl as soon as I got back to the car. Maybe it’s just poison oak. It really hurts though.”
“You sure your not nauseous or dizzy (Because your… driving!). Poison oak doesn’t usually hurt that bad. How many times have we run through poison oak?”
“Yeah, I know. Maybe it was just a bug bite…”
“Or a snake bite or a scorpion sting. You say you have a funny taste in your mouth?
“Yeah. Kinda metallic-like.”
“Well, a snake bites would typically look worse than what you described and the metal taste makes me think you got stung by a scorpion instead but this is what we’re gonna do. Since you’re almost home, drive straight to the hospital and we’ll meet you there.”
“Yeah, all right. Can you call Sarah for me. She didn’t pick up and when I called her. You don’t think it’s poison oak then, huh?”
(heart rate now at about 80% calculated age-adjusted maximum)
“Doesn’t matter what I think. Let’ get it checked out by a doctor. If nothing else they can give you something for the pain and to counteract any allergic reaction you might be having.”
“Just got off the freeway. It’s probably nothing. You really think I should go to the ER?”
“Yeah, I really think you should. Be sure to tell them you suspect a snake bite even though you didn’t see a snake.”
“Yeah, it does hurt. “
(pulse pounding though trying to keep my voice calm)
“Hey Sean. I’ll be there in about fifteen minutes. But before we hang up, you didn’t break your new 5-weight or anything when you got stung, did you?”
I love this addiction called urban fly fishin’.
Epilogue: Sean did go to the ER and it was determined that he was most likely stung by a scorpion. He also picked up poison oak on his other leg. He received treatment for both, and he and I, along with our wives and his sister-in-law ended up having lunch together. My heart rate did return to normal fairly quickly. Sean did not break his new 5-weight.