Tales from the Fisherman
Finding Flow — My Journey in Fly Fishing
Like many fly fishermen, I started out conventional fishing and spent most of my childhood casting bobbers with worms, spinners, crankbaits, and all kinds of lures. I always had a love and fascination with moving water and I was drawn to it. I was 22 years old when the movie “A River Runs Through It” came out and I was enamored with the thought of fly fishing. I was a first year teacher and didn’t have much money but went to Gander Mountain and bought some cheap, off-brand fly rod, reel, line, and leaders. I knew absolutely nothing about fly fishing but I made my way up to Black Earth Creek near Madison, Wisconsin and attempted to be a fly fisherman. This didn’t go so good………. I recall spending most of my time tangled or snagged in trees. I lost my entire leader setup and didn’t know how to re-tie it so I gave it up for my ultralight spinning rod. I spent several years going back and forth between fly fishing and casting spinners but I bought a book that was beginners guide to fly fishing and I learned enough to start my journey into fly fishing.
I dedicated myself to learning the craft of fly fishing and spent most of my fishing time on Driftless trout streams. Since that time, I have taught my three boys to fly fish and it has become a family sport that has taken us to some of the most beautiful places imaginable. I still love trout fishing in the Driftless and experiencing the beauty and ambiance of the hills, valleys, and spring creeks, but now I go after all species of fish with my fly rod. I especially love targeting smallmouth bass and pike on the fly but I have fallen in love with saltwater fly fishing as well. Looking back at my early days of fly fishing, it was never about fishing, rather, it was about learning more about myself as a person. I have always used fly fishing as a tool for self-discovery and that still hasn’t changed. For me, wading a stream from sunrise to sunset and the repetitive, rhythmic motion of casting became a way of getting into “flow”.
Flow is another way of saying, being in the moment or in the zone. It’s a term coined by Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in the best selling book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. After reading this book, I knew exactly what I was experiencing while fly fishing. Even now, many years later, I actively seek this flow state, but to do so, some criteria need to be present, including clarity, non-judgmental thinking, and non-competitiveness. It’s such an amazing experience but the unique thing about it is that while in a flow state, you don’t know you’re in a flow state, if that makes sense. I begin each fishing outing with prayer and I end in prayer but it’s the in between hours that pass like minutes and before long it is nightfall and I realize that I have a feeling of calmness, satisfaction and peace of mind that carries me into my commitments and responsibilities of life. And this is why my guide service was named, In The Flow………