Seeking Solitude: Stream Fishing

StreamFishingCreek“Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone and solitude expresses the glory of being alone.” ~ Paul Tillich

I spent some time up in the mountains this past weekend. I gathered up my pole and some tackle, a few snacks and some water, and my hiking boots. I took my time driving the hour trip along a bumpy dirt road. I passed a few spots I knew were places I considered “easy fishing,” and I instead continued on in search of new and different holes. I reached the summit of the dusty road, and it was here I encountered a stream I had many times contemplated fishing but had never “found the time to do so.”

I pulled out my pole, knotted a hook on the end, weaved on a worm, and dropped my line into the lazy moving stream water. I watched as it drifted slowly along, bobbing every so often, and finally rested in a small catch of grass. I dropped down into a seated position, folding my legs underneath me, and prepared for an afternoon of solitude.

StreamFishingDandelionMany people say fishing is boring. It is a lot of waiting, a lot of sitting, a lot of silence, and a lot of not catching anything. I can see how fishing appears to be a very boring activity. There isn’t much physical movement needed. If the fishing isn’t going well there is absolutely nothing you can do about it, as it is just the way the day is going to be. I sometimes joke with others that fishing is like taking a much needed nap. You can drop that line, close your eyes, and literally fall asleep. Don’t worry, the pole jiggle will wake you up. Sometimes that is what we need: a quiet, mountain air nap.

StreamFishingPoleWhile the fishing nap is definitely a perk to fishing, I actually find fishing to be where I find my solitude. Our world is filled with noise, lights, and physical stimulus. We are constantly looking at our bright, lit up phones and listening to the loud sounds of traffic. Every task we do is filled with so much stimulus. Take for example a simple trip to the grocery store. The lights in the store are florescent, and every package you look at is covered in bright colors explaining nutrition and ingredient information. There are the beeping sounds of the cashiers, the loud speaker announcements, the background music you probably don’t even notice but is playing continuously the entire time you wander down aisle after aisle. You are bumping into people, excusing yourself for getting in other’s ways, chatting with friends you find in the dairy section. Your mind is trying to accomplish maneuvering through the store while also remembering that you need toilet paper and chicken stock. It really can be an over-stimulating nightmare!

For me, stream fishing is my break from all of that. The only noises I hear are the different birds practicing their calls, the wind subtly crawling through the branches and leaves of the aspen tree, and the water rushing below my feet, carrying my line slowly down the stream. The only things I see are the bright blue sky filled with puffy white clouds and the ever-reaching mountain peaks. And the only thing on my mind is fishing. I don’t worry about the emails I need to check, or if someone “liked” my Facebook status. I don’t care what is happening at work. I am not worried who will be president. I’m not even worried about what I will have for dinner that night. Somehow at that moment, everything seems like it will work itself out and my only concern is to watch that pole tip, waiting for that jiggle.

An empty mind can be a beautiful thing! I highly suggest everyone do a little stream fishing this weekend.

Happy Fishing!

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