Everything about trout perplexed and delighted [my grandfather and great uncle]. Any creature so graceful, powerful, and secretive, so unwilling to adapt to civilization, was a creature worthy of respect…'They're doomed' said Albert… 'Bring civilization within a mile of [trout] and they turn belly up. It's wildness for them or nothing. No compromises. They believe in the simple life. Cold water, plenty of food, and clean oxygen… Doomed, and me along with them, thank whatever gods there are.'
-Harry Middleton, The Earth is Enough
Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.
I am haunted by waters.
-Norman MacLean, A River Runs Through It
I don't know in great detail what Ron Dunn and Ed Farrell-Starbuck will offer in the evenings for this retreat. I am a relative newcomer to flyfishing, having caught my first rainbow trout in Torrey Creek three years ago, while they have been pursuing the practice for decades. I do know, however, that I am utterly enthralled by the whole enterprise. Even when landing a trout in one's net isn't part of the day, there is a deep, sacred energy to standing in the rushing water of a river, wondering what can be enticed to rise to the fly you offer. A properly cast flyline is a swirling momentary arc of beauty. And, I am certain Ron and Ed will agree, the sleek power and utter otherness of a trout held for a moment in one's net is surely an apt metaphor for encountering the divine Other.
Flyfishing has inspired a lovely body of literature that is well worth reading, even if you aren't a direct practitioner. Here are some suggestions for some fine reflections:
The Earth is Enough, by Harry Middleton
The River Why, by David James Duncan
A River Runs Through It, by Norman MacLean
The Habit of Rivers, by Ted Leeson
Of course, there is nothing better than actually being out on the water, rod in hand and fish rising. A reminder: we have an experienced instructor for this session who will be happy to get anyone started with the basics. So, whether you are a flyfisher for decades or a newcomer to this deeply spiritual practice, please consider joining us!