I’m not saying that I am either an atheist or a Christian. But when I am wading up a river and concentrating on casting my fly here and there, I go into a zone that cannot be described as anything short of a religious experience.
As the river flows against my legs and I watch insects float downstream, I focus on the fish rising to my fly. I question whether I’m using the right fly in the right size. In the process, my mind is totally absorbed in what is happening right now. Watching a fish rise to your own fly, examine it, and then take it in the mouth and dart to safety while you tighten the line is something you never forget. Fish on!
Fighting the fish until he is netted and examined is what it is all about. You carefully release the trout as it recovers from the battle and tell him, “I’ll catch you again sometime.”
For the present and for the rest of the day I’m in heaven. I don’t owe anyone any money, my wife is not mad at me, I’m not hungry or thirsty, and I feel nothing but total joy. My mind is totally at ease.
Perhaps the religious part comes from experiencing the magic of nature. The trees and the birds, the wind and the sky and the solitude of me alone in the wilderness put my spirit in a place that cannot be replicated any other way. This is my place and my time.
I am comforted knowing that at the end of the day as I join my friends and discuss the day’s adventures that I will be on “cloud nine” as I recall this magical feeling. It’s a feeling that doesn’t happen to me on the golf course or even skiing. Sometimes on a powder day I’ll have brief episodes of this feeling but it doesn’t last all day.
If fly fishing isn’t a religion, I don’t know what is. Just come with me to one of my favorite waters and see if it happens to you, too.