KW Morrow, White River

June 6th, 2005

Hooking Up
By Ken Morrow

I've heard it said that fishing is nothing more than a jerk on one end of a line waiting for a jerk on the other. Now, I'll admit I can be a jerk sometimes...I guess. But I wouldn't classify myself as a jerk in the general sense. Then again, would a real jerk be aware of his jerkiness? But it is definitely true that I await the sensation that comes with the jerk on the other end of my line. It's what I live for. It is why I fish. Yes, I live for the hook up…that split second when the ephemeral becomes tangible. Fish on!

I think there are nearly as many different baseline reasons why men and women fish as there are men and women who fish. Most of us enjoy various aspects of fishing, but most of us probably have one favorite element that trumps all others. I enjoy the scenery, being outdoors, the art of casting and of fly tying, the solitude of just me and a stream, the gear and gadgets, the camaraderie amongst fly anglers, and many other aspects of the sport. I even enjoy eating trout...especially if I caught them myself. But I live for the feeling that starts in my hand, moves up my arm and into my brain, and says to my soul, "Ah-hah! Fooled another one!"

Now, I wouldn't consider besting a fish to be much of a challenge in my domain. I mean, if the fish had to compete with me in business, in a classroom, at a billiards table, or on a tennis court, it really would be no great accomplishment to beat him. But besting him in his own environment is a thrill every time. There is something special...and I imagine peculiar to humans...about using logic and knowledge to overcome an animal that relies solely on instinct for his survival. It is the ultimate validation of our humanity. We sit atop the food chain for this very reason - the overwhelming superiority of rational thought.

Yep. That's the bottom line. I fish for the hook up. Bang! The instant the line goes tight. In that instant I feel what the Japanese mystics call "satori." It is that split second following the perfect execution of some endeavor in which the realization and appreciation of perfection first dawns on the human consciousness. It is a fleeting feeling, occupying only a fraction of a second, in which immense self-satisfaction floods the consciousness and then is gone. To truly appreciate the full effect, one has to have subdued the clutter and cacophony of all the random thoughts which occupy our minds most of the time and be intently focused on only that one thing…anticipating the strike. I've heard many anglers extol the mind-clearing virtue of fishing...especially fly-fishing. It is true. It does tend to focus one's thoughts with laser-like precision and intensity upon the task at hand; clearing the thoughts of work and worry from the mind. Opening up the opportunity to truly relish the hook up.

I get a different kind of satisfaction from bringing a fish to hand. It's not as fleeting as the hook up, but neither is it as intense. It is a more mundane sense of accomplishment without the attendant excitement that accompanies the hook up. And we all know that sense of satisfaction that comes with the end of a very successful day of fishing. But this far more subtle sense of satisfaction I believe to be the residual "after-glow" of all those moments of intense excitement and repeated feelings of accomplishment that we felt throughout the course of the day. Again, this feeling occupies a somewhat lower position in my mind than the hook up does. To me, nothing in the angling world compares to the sensation of a suddenly tightened line and that first shake of the fishes head. Take some time to figure out what your "satori" moment is. Restructure your fishing around that fundamental reason why you fish and I submit you will achieve a new level of enjoyment in your fly-fishing. As Curly explained to the "greenhorns" in the movie "City Slickers," the secret to happiness is figuring out the "one thing" - the single thing which brings you the most joy - and then building your life around it in such a way as to nurture, protect, and enjoy it as much as possible. Think about it... ~ Ken

About Ken:

Ken graduated from Southern Methodist University in 1988, and spent the next several years serving in the United States Navy as an intelligence analyst and Russian Language translator. He is a veteran of Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Leaving the nation's service in 1993.

Ken is also a published outdoor writer and historian, having penned articles and stories that have appeared in several national hunting publications like North American Hunter magazine, on, in regional and local newspapers, and historical and literary journals. He has also provided hunting and dog training seminars for Bass Pro Shops and other sporting goods retailers nationwide. He volunteers his time to Ducks Unlimited and Trout Unlimited, as well as several local charitable organizations. He is also a REALTOR with Coldwell Banker in Branson, Missouri; where he lives with his wife, Wilma, and their Weimaraner, Smoky Joe.

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