(Fish) Food for Thought
I have an obsessive personality. When I get into something, I really get INTO something. Before our life on the road, I would become intensely interested in things (like bike touring, straight razor shaving, photography) read all about them and jump into them with the blindness of the naive and willing. It has been a challenge, therefore, to curb this innate curiosity while we are traveling. After all, shouldn’t this strange life on the road be enough?
One of these recent “wild hairs” has been fishing. Fly fishing and bike touring, in my mind, always seemed like a perfect combination. Fly fishing is the friction shifting equivalent in the fishing world. In fly fishing, you pull in the fish with your bare hands, stripping the line in. It has been described as “hand to hand combat” with fish. Even when you’re not catching fish, there is something innately graceful and relaxing in looping a fly line out into the water and pulling it back behind you in these long fluid motions. As well as being hand to hand combat, it is also the ballet of fishing.
Now, I’ve been good. I fought the urge to go and get a fly rod all throughout the desert and the winter when it didn’t make sense. But after camping at lake after lake in Texas, I had to scratch the itch. Through a stroke of serendipity, the Backwoods in Fort Worth had a great fly shop and an excellent fly shop manager named Steven. I told Steven what I was endeavoring to do. I was on a bicycle trip but I wanted to fly fish along the way. He didn’t even bat an eye. Instead, he took the practice fly rod and talked me through some basics and told me what I would need. He also mentioned in passing that he was teaching a class at 8am the next morning. I took that as another sign.
So I set my alarm for 6:30am, the first time I had done so in months, to take the class. It was a few hours of casting, an hour talking about fish behaviorand a half hour learning how to tie a fly. I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed it. He was an excellent teacher that was so absolutely in love with fly fishing it was near impossible not to catch his sense of enthusiasm. I ended up purchasing a rod, a few flies and some doodads to make a portable fly fishing kit.
You’re probably wondering why I’m writing about fishing on a bike touring site. Well, the whole experience got me thinking about our trip as whole. It made me realize that just because we’re traveling it doesn’t mean we don’t have other interests that we’d like to explore as well. It made me realize how I still want to learn things while we’re moving. We are not stagnant people. We’ve changed so much and learned so much since we left 9 months ago. Furthermore, learning new things constantly adds to our experience of this trip.
Before the class and my first attempts at fishing, I would think a lake is a lake is a lake. It’s got water and it’s pretty to look at. Now, I look at the water and notice where fish might be, what sorts of insects are buzzing around that they would eat, the speed and depth of the water, etc., That class and the act of fishing has given me another level of enjoyment and enrichment of our trip. Laura and I talked about it and are going to be more open about taking classes along the way of regional arts or traditions when its possible to do so. We are dynamic people, still changing and growing. As I wrote in a previous post, the United States is our classroom, our bikes are our front row seats and we are curious and hungry students.
Clancy May 10, 2010 at 6:56 pm
Fly fishing is fun, relaxing and theraputic. From the choosing or tying of flies to replicate nature to the laying down the perfect cast.
Russ can now tie flies while Laura is making jewelery.
geoff May 11, 2010 at 5:44 am
I don’t know anything about fly fishing, but i remember seeing a good quality fishing rod and seeing a Shimano reel, cork grip, lots of wood and metal — i imagine fishing geeks and bike geeks have a lot in common.
keep us all up to date on the culinary return on your investment!
Chris Stewart May 11, 2010 at 7:15 am
Have to second the tenkara idea. For bicycle touring it has to be the best option. The rods telescope down to just over 20″ and you don’t have the weight or bulk of a reel. Very simple. Very effective.
Nic May 15, 2010 at 8:57 am
I posses a very similar characteristic; described as “input” and “intellection” by Strength Finder 2.0 (a personality tests that points out our most positive attributes). Fly fishing is a great activity to pour your interest into, and once you start hooking into fish you won’t be able to resist.
Been following your blog for a while and really enjoying it. Do you and Laura have plans to pass through Madison WI on your journey?
-craigt May 23, 2010 at 8:04 pm
You don’t always pull them in by hand. Sometimes you fight them hard, use your hand as a drag and crank’em in …
You might recognize the voice in the background. 🙂
Stephen Jones August 26, 2018 at 2:47 pm
I’m also planning on taking a fishing rod with me, on my round the world bicycle trip!
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now you just need a tenkara rod and lite set up.
yes, it has a draw, and allure, a bit or purity to it. i was bitten hard years ago. got some basic kit and loved to cast. but i just wasn’t into using it as a tool, to feed me… and eventually catch and release just seemed like torture. so i dropped it.
i still dream of it though. but in a way like maybe mikesee would do it:
especially if it was feeding my journey.