Rite of Passage

Often times the process of giving over to flyfishing seems absolutely unalterable, as if we are predestined to screw up. While flyfishing guides are far from soothsayers and oracles, the seeming
predestination of our lives often presentes the usual paradoxes. Leading me to wonder more than once: “Is it fate or just a right of passage?”


In the cold spring dusk, leaks in our waders
remind us of last season. Water from stripping in line
numbs our fingers. There is no mystery
in wanting to wake up each day believing
a river will safely carry us away when it won’t.

Every atom under the right circumstances
is infallible or fatigable, bones cannot be removed
from body so the scaffolding remains. If it is dirty
clean it out. If it is broken repair it. If it howls
like a wounded dog, see a shrink or dig a grave.

There is no immunity from life. Nic tells me
he’d trade places: bad marriage, lives in the suburbs,
hopes someone will shoot and relocate him.
But all the bears this year were shot dead. One day

I get him down into the Black Canyon. Fish
break his tippet, steal his flies, make off
with a ransom on his brain, leave him climbing out,
puking and dehydrated from last nights pizza
and whiskey. Still, the next afternoon, he’s back
on the water, different river, same dreams. Leads to

divorce. An extended dissertation. Takes it
like a fly fisherman. Hell, like a fly fisherwoman. Takes it
like a cutthroat takes a Royal PMX. Same spot,
three consecutive days, rising slowly towards the glory:

all light and action, hackle, wiggling legs, dancing.
As the dropper from a late hook set once again
drives home the simple fact that life is a pain in the ass.


The FlyFish Journal Mailing List

We respect your time, and only send you the occasional update.