For those of you who don’t know…or think that somehow I am able to fly fish for a living…well, I am in my 34th year of teaching public high school in southern Indiana; and I am here to tell you that teens today are different than they were, period. I sometime wonder or worry if maybe it is just me, inevitably turning into the ‘old-curmudgeon’…truth is I really believe that the past ten years haven’t been great for America and especially those kids that I work with on a daily basis!
Just this past week I spoke to my group of kids (I teach about 20 special needs kids) on two words; mundane and contentment. If you haven’t had the pleasure…teens today, generally speaking, feel quite enabled and special. They are not yet familiar with the daily/mundane acts that they are going to have to perform! Truth is…if I could somehow move them forward about ten years down the road, when rent is due and second or third child is on the way…well, to say the least, they’d be more interested in what I have to say. To connect mundane and the ability to be content was indeed a stretch and I received many looks, stares and a few “What the Hell are you talking about looks”!
At the end of our discussion I showed the group the You-Tube clip from City-Slickers; you know the scene, Jack Palance and Billy Crystal are riding along together somewhere in the west….if not, search that one thing along with Billy Crystal and it will pop right up. The clip is only a minute and a half long; within the clip, Curly (Jack Palance) is talking to Mitch (Billy Crystal) and he holds up his index finger and ask Mitch if he knows what this is? This led the group to a conversation about their one thing…what is it that really motivates them…what are they passionate about?
I have several one-things; I love my family, I love running a saw and working in the woods, I love going to church on a Sunday to re-charge, I love trailing one of my German Wirehairs while in pursuit of a pheasant…but my real passion is fly-fishing. It is indeed my one thing. Fly fishing is indeed cathartic…it allows me to clear my head and much like church, to re-charge, grab some traction on life and once again be able to head out on a tough day at school.
Come along with me on a day a few years past in the Driftless Area of Iowa for one of those “One-Thing” moments …
The water was clear, too clear as I neared the 90 degree bend in French Creek…in the northeast corner of Iowa’s Driftless Region. For sure…for me to catch anything today, I’d need to stay low and make long, accurate casts…oh, and get the drift just right! No small feat when there is absolutely no cover and the only other thing (s) in the area are a herd of Hereford cattle. Below my 4X tippet was a bitch creek nymph I’d tied the night before; tan and white chenille, dark tan hackle and a pair of white rubber legs dangling both fore and aft of the fly. I could feel the rod load on my back-cast, the line unfurled completely towards the morning sun that had just crept up over the eastern horizon. I made an upstream mend and waited…a second or so went by when I felt and saw my line go taught-without thinking I strip set, raised the rod and stood up. Immediately I could feel both the weight of the fish and current of the clear stream pull; my first thought was to be patient, let the rod, line, etc…do its job.
They say a brown won’t jump…maybe, not sure who they are…but many of my encounters have resulted in one or more ‘athletic-vaults’. All I know is that shortly after my strip set this spectacular fish went air-borne and I knew I had hooked into one of those Driftless browns that would soon either make or break my day. 35 years of fly fishing and years of screw-ups led me to be patient, careful and cautious…frankly, not my usual approach to gathering in a fish! As I slid the net under a true trophy, keeping it both in the net and wet…I snapped a photo, one of ‘those’ photos…the same photo (one of hundreds) that sits atop one of my white boards. It is there to remind me that no matter how tough and crazy a day might get…my one-thing isn’t too far away and Lord willing I will once again, soon, be back on top of or in moving waters, in search of the next adventure, the next story, the next motivation. Life is full of the ‘mundane’; to become ‘content’ is the key…but thank God I have found and truly love fly-fishing. Here’s hoping your ONE-THING helps you to persevere each day…may God bless you!
NOTE: You can read the complete story of my Blast-Cast adventure in Montana and Iowa. Just click here.