This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

March 17th, 2003

Beyond the Catching of Fish

I know many of you fish alone. It is a piece of respite, solitude, escapism needed to maintain your sanity (see I really do understand) - and you prefer to have that time to yourself. Understood. Still, some need to share that in some way. Bragging rights perhaps, or maybe telling someone about something especially neat. Doesn't have to be catching fish. We've had many Readers Casts about neat things seen or discovered in the midst of a 'fishing' experience.

My husband, JC, and I have fished together so long (over 30 years) it's difficult for either of us to really enjoy the occasional time when we aren't sharing the experience. It is a common frame of reference for us, and we can talk about where, when, why and who. Many hours of enjoyment for us.

Returning from our recent bonefish trip, we are still talking about the neat things. And the people. JC had a chance to renew a friendship he began on the Invitational Bonefish Tournament on Grand Bahama Island last November, and I finally met the fellow he had been telling me about. I hope that continues to be a fine friendship. We met some new folks as well, and have the opportunity for those to become friendships too.

There are lots of 'parts' to fly fishing. Many are well beyond the catching of fish.

We might remember a fish we caught (but it's more likely we'll remember the big one, or tough one we lost), but for us it has become the people we've met over the years. Granted, we have more years than many of you, so the address book may be a little thicker and well used.

But because of the common fly fishing frame of reference, we can run into, speak to, email those folks and it seems like we are just picking up a conversation we had a day or so ago; instead of a matter of years since we've seen them in person. Some people whom I consider to be friends, not just acquaintances, I have never met in person. I have spoken to some on the phone, but most are folks we've come to value through the Chat Room or Bulletin Board. Common backgrounds and shared values tend to make for good relationships. Marriages too.

I keep saying the finest folks in the world are fly fishers, and the percentage of 'dorks' as compared to those in the general population is considerably less. That still holds true. One can even excuse some of the 'dorkiness' to youth and inexperience. A couple of our dorky former students actually grew up, became good fly fishers and have made up for their past behavior. Cool.

JC and I always look forward to the Fish-Ins, just like others attending we like putting faces on the names we've seen in the Chat Room or on the Bulletin Board. One of the real treats is meeting folks who haven't participated in either, but decided to come and fish. Great fun. Friendships are established which will flourish.

Jeff Fields from Atlanta, Georgia, was at the very first Fish-In and he's been to every one since. He'll attend a couple of the regional ones this year as well, and the last time I heard he had fished with over 50 people from Fly Anglers OnLine (FAOL) - not counting the Fish-Ins. He travels a great deal and tries to arrange his schedule so he has a weekend to fish wherever he is. Since Jeff is single he can get away with that, and more power to him. What a wonderful chance to make friendships and memories to last a lifetime.

A reader recently wrote of his first experience fishing on purpose with others, (all FAOL folks) and how much he enjoyed it. While he may still go off by himself, he has a new frame of reference and friends with whom to share his experiences. He just expanded his world - and who knows how much he has to contribute to those new friends which will enhance their fishing too.

It all works together. In fact, if you read the Bulletin Board you will often see questions about where to fish, or people traveling to a new area asking for advise. Quite often the answers will also contain an invitation to fish with one of the people in the region.

Regardless of what else you've been involved with for a vocation or avocation, one of the great benefits of fly fishing is the friendships you make. Nourish and cherish them, they are rare in the society we live in. ~ The LadyFisher

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