THE SENSE OF WONDER
Have you recently spent time with young children, say kindergarten aged children. Recently I had a friend tell me about a day he spent with a class of kindergarten children. First he said that they skipped everywhere; they skipped to recess, they skipped to the library, they skipped to class. They were excited about everything and they demonstrated their excitement by skipping. When was the last time that you felt that way about fly fishing?
When was the last time that you stopped trying to catch just one more fish to watch the changing color panorama of the clouds as God paints another sunset? As the colors unfold do you set and watch with a sense of wonder and awe or do you simply give it a glance and write it off as just another sunset?
One of my favorite times to attempt to tempt a trout with a fly is at the end of a hot summer day. In Montana the summer twilight lingers until well after 9 pm in high summertime and I can slip out after a casual dinner at home and get in a couple hours of fishing before dark. The other evening, after an unusually hot day for Montana, I fired up the old fishing car and struck out for my favorite trout water. Fortunately I live in the heart of trout country and my favorite trout water is just minutes from my front door. Driving out into Paradise Valley along the Yellowstone River the cool from the river and the slowly setting sun began to temper the temperature, and when I reach the place where I decided to fish for the evening the cooler air from the mountains was beginning to waft down into the valley. Mayfly spinners were dancing over the meadow and small tan caddis flies were darting over the surface of the water.
Wader clad and gripping my fly rod I made my way down to the water. Trout were rising sporadically and I affixed a small rusty spinner on my tippet and slipped into the water downstream from where I noticed several trout rising. Over the next hour I was lost in the act of placing my small dry fly in front of the rising trout. The trout were all browns and ranged in size from 10 inches to 16 inches. They were fat, strong and beautiful. What beautiful creatures, completely adapted to live and flourish in an environment that is as totally alien to us as life on another planet.
As the twilight deepened the rises became less frequent until the stream flowed along unbroken by rising trout. With my fly hooked into the keeper on my rod I climbed out of the water and started back toward my car. It was then that the beauty of another Montana summer night reminded me of all that fly fishing has brought to me over my lifetime.
In the nearby trees a robin sang his tribute to the sunset. Several whitetail deer were feeding in the alfalfa fields along the bench and a pair of trumpeter swans guided their cygnets toward their nighttime roost.
I love to watch a trout rise and see my dry fly disappear in the swirl. I revel in the thrill of the initial run and the feeling that a good fish transmits through my fly rod and down to my hand. However, the fish are just the fringe benefit. From the sense of wonder that I get from watching a small warbler catching insects on the wing that are too small for me to see to a buck deer with antlers clothed in velvet slipping through the streamside willows to get a drink apparently oblivious to my presence I stand in awe and wonder. The fly fishing is just a marginal part of the total package, and I feel pity for anyone that isn't awestruck by such things.