Mindfulness and the art of trout fishing.

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Mindfulness and the art of trout fishing.

Post by Kiwioz » Tue Oct 19, 2021 3:23 pm

Management had decided for purposes of morale, productivity, general well-being or adoption of the latest trend in workplace wellness to schedule mindfulness training. So, there we were. Walking aimlessly, discretely avoiding bumping into each other in the large meeting room, while the trainer intoned in a monotone, “concentrate on your breathing. One foot after the other, ignore all distracting thoughts, breathe and walk, breathe and walk.”

It was an hour’s reprieve from the computer screen and attendance would be a tick with HR. However, I was not in the room at all.

I was in a remote trout stream. My focus was on the water ahead. My polaroids searched the water, carefully examining any points of structure in the river. Examining the undercut banks for a flicker of a tail or fin. Scanning the surface for a hatching dun. Not detecting any movement, shadow or suspicious shape I decided an exploratory cast could be worthwhile. I gently step deeper into the stream to position myself, feeling the water pressure on my waders as I move using the cover of an over-hanging bush. Studying the water once more, the structure of a sunken log seemed likely to provide cover to a wary trout. Check the rig. A dry dropper for exploration. The nymph below should be close to the bottom I judge. Check the backcast area for any overhanging branches waiting to snare the flies. Fish close and work up. No point in spooking an unseen fish. Inhale and focus on the cast. Pull out some line. Muscle memory rules. Back cast, forward stroke, back, pause and delivery stroke. The nymph drops deep, the dry floats low. A small mend as the rig drifts alongside the log. Nothing. Run the drift out, backcast and forward, slip out more line to land the flies just ahead of the sunken log. Let the drift run. No joy. Perhaps a cast alongside the near bank to lure a fish hungry for a morsel from the undercut. Glance to check the back cast. My mind is focussed on the undercut bank. The cast is unconscious, the result of hours of drills, practise and river craft. The flies drift within inches of the bank, swirl in an eddy, but there is no dip of the dry or engulfing rise to take the same. One more cast, further up. The drift is perfect. Again, the drift runs through with no takers.

Time to move up. Stepping carefully, the bank is overgrown so wading is the only course. Each step stealthy, as little noise or disturbance as possible, past the sunken log, ignoring the ripe blackberries, glossy and plump. Blackberry is a curse on this stretch of stream.

A new position. Once again, the water is studied. A riffle upstream is oxygenating a run. A good sign. Browns likely to be lazily grazing on drifting nymphs as the run slows and broadens. Rainbows likely active in the oxygenated boggly water further up. Let’s watch and see. Time stands still. The river flows on, effortless, tumbling over the mostly submerged boulders, spreading and flowing smoothly, almost slick in the glide. The stream babbling in the riffle to the valley forest, then running silently below through the trees.

Suddenly movement, as a swallow swoops, dips and takes a dun. Action. I watch and notice a dun sail past, the upright wings drying before it attempts flight. I estimate size sixteen. Then I see the subtle boil. Not even a boil, a subsurface bulge. My focus is intense. Perhaps an emerger or unweighted nymph? Further up another bulge, with a tail breaking the surface as the fish drops back down the water column. The glare is testing my polaroids, but the fish are there. A dry dropper too clumsy for these subtle feeders. I nip the dry dropper combo off. My hands are shaking with excitement and anticipation as I tie a fresh length of fine tippet and rummage in my fly box for an emerger. Deer hair or CDC, snowshoe?? Shit, why do I tie so many different variations of flies. OK, CDC to start. It will have a bit of movement. Calm down. Focus on your breathing. That’s it. Now watching again. If it is a mini-hatch I may have missed it. But no, there it is again. The tell-tale bulge of a fish feeding on station in the centre of the run.

I look to position myself. I move away from the bush that has provided cover, slowly move up behind and to the left of the fish. The swallow is back, with its mate this time, both swooping and dipping just behind the riffle taking the delicate duns before they lift off. Focus. I have marked where my fish has been rising. Look behind for low hanging branches. Settle my breathing. A cast well within range. Line pulled out. The back cast, forward stroke letting line slip to match the distance. Backcast, pause, smooth forward cast and lowering the fly on target. Tension is palpable as the fly settles and bobs in the current. Then it’s gone! Inhaled by a trout too lazy to fully rise and lift it is head out of the water. I strip strike and the fish erupts, rudely roused from its leisurely feeding. “Yes!” I shout.

“Excuse me,” the trainer calls, “people are learning mindfulness.”

Author: Transit of Fiordland

Posts: 52
Joined: Sat May 10, 2014 11:41 pm

Re: Mindfulness and the art of trout fishing.

Post by icthusiast » Wed Oct 20, 2021 6:51 am

Nice. Thanks for that! :)

All the best

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