December 16th, 2002

The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
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Breaking the Current
By Paul Dieter (pdieter)

Crashed kid, Paul
I can still remember some of my earliest fishing trips. They were part of those grand family vacations of the 1960's wild west, with a Dodge station wagon loaded inside and out with kids, dogs, adults and gear. The destination always involved fishing with my family so I was exposed to it before I could participate. Often we fished small streams but I can remember a few rivers that seemed as wide and wild as an ocean. I remember wading out into these rivers with my father, not even fishing just manning the net for him.

I stood no chance in these massive currents but I watched my father wade into them with complete awe at his power and confidence. He would take me out into the water quaking with fear but always believing I was safe with him and unwilling to be left out of the fishing. He would grab the collar of my shirt and I would walk in his wake out into the churning waters. There in his lee I would have a safe harbor, his strength and devotion breaking the current for me. Sometimes we'd wade too deep and I wouldn't be able to keep contact with the river bottom and begin to drift away. I don't remember being afraid I just remember that he always caught a hold of me before I was swept away and I remember always knowing he would.

The combination of believing in my father's abilities and not fully understanding the danger, made wading in waters beyond my abilities a form of recreation in and of itself.

To this day I am primarily a river fisherman, enjoying climbing around the boulders and cliffs and wading into the powerful currents of my home waters. I fish some lakes and the salt but they don't hold my attention like the cold rushing waters of the mountains and deserts.

My fishing buddies know me as a maniacal wader making jokes about me leading them to an early grave. All too often I will find a spot to cross a river with my eye on some enticing water on the other side; then upon reaching the far bank I turn to see a look of disbelief on my companion's face. This look also seems to say, "are ya nutz, I'm not wading into that!" It's not like I never fall or get swept away but that's just always been a part of fishing for me. There are almost always extra clothes in the truck and in the summer months it's quite refreshing. Dad showed me early on that if walking a 1/2 mile got you to less pressured water then crossing to the other side could do the same in much less time. Most people are secure within limited boundaries but if you can expand your boundaries the possibilities, adventures and rewards will exponentially increase.

These days family vacations involve loading the SUV with fewer people and lighter gear but the destinations still always involve fishing. My daughter is much more cautious than I was, she's more like her mother that way, but she trusts me the same way I trust my father and will wade out into the river somehow overcoming her primal fear of the current. It's very easy for me to break the current for her, I only wish I could stand between her and all the dangerous forces in the world. I know I can't protect her from everything and it probably wouldn't serve her well if I could; but I do know that taking her out into the middle of the chaos breaking the worst of it with my body allows her to see beyond the danger to the possible joys and personal challenges available. Then when she needs to stand-alone in the river she will know that it can be done and that hope always outweighs fear.

My father has taught me so many things this way, standing just upstream so I could be in places I could not find alone. Now that I am a father I understand more of the difficulties he faces. When to break the current, and when to step back and let the full force push at my stance? When to believe my cries of fear and inability and when to push me on to discover their illusion? No one makes the right choice every time and dunkings are just a part of the process, but you can always change your clothes or lie in the sun and start over again. Thanks Dad for helping me out into the river where life is so full. Happy Birthday. ~ PD

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