I signed up for the fly-fishing-for-women course through the local B&B because I needed to escape my everyday existence and learn something new. I had been drawn to the running trails near the Kinnickinnic, but had never stepped foot in the water. Often times I found myself near the river, hypnotized by the sound of rushing water, and mesmerized by the beauty and rhythm of a fly fisherman’s technique. I watched with fascination as the line was ripped from the water when the fisherman had one on. Without fail, the fisherman displayed compassion for the fish and respect for the stream. I lost myself in the scene and I allowed my worries to be carried away by the current. The river was a magical place and I wanted to learn more about its depth.
I arrived at the class in a bright pink, short-sleeved top and khaki shorts, with a borrowed rod and reel. I had a great little pack of flies that had been a birthday gift from a friend cinched around my waist. I had spied this look on a pro while walking near the Rush River one day and boldly and ignorantly thought fly-fishing was about the flies and the gear. I learned later that day there was more to the sport than what met the eye.
The instructor was a fly fishing expert who worked for Cabellas and had fished streams all over the world. She was dressed in waders and a fancy fly-fishing vest with lots of fishing gadgets hanging from the pockets and zippers. She had a net hanging from her waist and under her vest she wore a pale green shirt with the sleeves rolled up to a three quarter length on her arm. She wore a baseball cap that sported several interesting flies hooked to the bill. She had a soft voice and an even temperament and her love and passion for the great outdoors was contagious. I liked her instantly.
After a brief lesson on threading line and tying flies, she took us to nearby baseball fields and demonstrated the principles of the cast. We practiced the snap of the line until she was satisfied none of us would hook another’s eyeball.
As we made our way to the bank of the river, she showed us how to carry our rods without breaking or snagging the tip. As we sat and geared up, she explained the temperature and flow of the water, the speed of the current, and how and where the fish would sit. She talked about the wisdom of the fish and how they can detect imbalances in their environment. She told me my shirt was “too loud” to be natural and the fish would feel threatened by the color. She handed me one of her soft blue fishing shirts that blended well with the sky. Strangely, I felt more at peace, too. She was almost poetic when she spoke of the natural balance and perfect ecological harmony that made the sport possible.
One by one she guided our slippery steps over rocks and set us up in the stream. She told us exactly where to cast to catch a fish. Even with athletic genes, I found it to be a significant challenge to get the line to go exactly where I wanted it to go. It took finesse and patience, both of which I lacked at that particular moment in time. I cast and dragged the line; cast and dragged the line. Each time the snap of my line got louder and more forced and more times than not, would snag a tree branch or rock. No trout hit my line and I was convinced it was due to the wrong kind of fly.
Sensing my frustration, the instructor waded her way over to my spot. She secured her footing, grabbed my line, then reached down and picked up a fist-sized rock. She flipped it over and pointed to the tiny creatures clutching the rock.
“See those little bugs?” she asked me. They constantly change, but those are the bugs that are hatching naturally at this exact moment in this stream. That’s the size and kind of fly you want to use,” she said with a slow, soft voice.
“You see, Samantha, the fish will tell you how to fish them. You just need to slow down enough to look around and listen.”
I walked away from that day with a respect for the sport and a new appreciation for the stream and the perfection of nature. I didn’t catch a fish, but the lesson has never left me. The fish will tell you how to fish them.
My son is not a fish, but I find this lesson to be true in parenting, as well. He’s like a little wise trout that can detect harsh imbalances in his environment. That may sound strange, but I believe it’s my job as his mother to create harmony in our environment, and protect him from harsh threats, whatever that looks like for him. Sometimes it’s a bully; other times it’s a school project or extracurricular deadline; but sometimes it’s the simple pressures of our fast-paced American life.
Like one-of-a-kind trout, children are unique and precious and require a place where they feel safe and can be their natural selves. They may not use words or bugs under rocks, but if you slow down, look around, and listen, I guarantee, they’ll communicate what they need.
The fish will tell you how to fish them. And so it is with the children. They will tell you how to parent them.
Watch for my new e-book available September 1, 2011, titled, How I’m not Winning Mother of the Year: 8 Powerful Perspectives for Parents. To reserve your copy, kindly contact me at Samantha@powerfulperspectives.net