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Spinning a yarn, casting it into neighbor’s tree

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POSTED March 2, 2011 12:57 a.m.
Most of the time, you don’t really wonder how you got to a certain place in time. If you do contemplate “What just happened?” it’s usually confined to a small increment of life.

Such as, “Should I have just set the hook?”, “That may have been the wrong dirt road past the bridge”, or “Where did that cop come from, was I speeding?”

More than a few times during the weekend I rigged up my eight-weight fly rod to practice casts outside, but when my forward cast was halted, I turned around and wondered how in the world I had managed to snag my neighbor’s almond tree with only yarn tied to the end of my leader.

Sorry, Dan.

Then, after I broke off the line and looked at the pathetic length of neon green oddly complimenting the white blossoms, I recalled the path I took from my first catfish in Kansas at age 5, to loads of silver salmon as a teenager, then to practicing casts in my buddy’s pool in Tucson, Ariz. during spring break when I first started fly-fishing a few years ago.

That all culminated during the weekend, casting my eight-weight fly-rod on the gravel driveway of my neighbor in California.

When I was younger I never practiced casting. What sense would that make since I grew up a 20 minute walk from a river with four species of salmon?

Now there I was. No water, no fish — just me and my eight-weight on a long strip of driveway.

Life works like that, and you can only hope something you love survives and you aren’t stuck talking about something you “love” to do but haven’t done in half a decade.

Fishing is not just about the act anymore, because I can’t do it as simply as I used to. There are greater logistical concerns such as gas, time and likelihood of actually hooking something other than trees or bushes.

Time away from water has actually been quite enlightening and swelled my passion for the sport. The gentle, rhythmic release of fly line from my novice hands always feels right and makes it impossible to think of anything but the line shooting ahead of me first in a ‘U’, then becoming a ‘J’, then finally a flat ‘I’ resting on water, grass or my neighbor’s property.

Sure, I’d like to be on the water, but I don’t have to be. That’s how passions work.

Somewhere along the line adults inadvertently taught me that a career was a job, not a life     that what you did outside of your chosen profession filled in the enormous voids left once you were off the clock.

Most of the activities I did outside as a kid have fallen victim to age and change. I don’t chop down trees, or hang old seine nets 40-feet up in the forest canopy for climbing, camping or full-contact basketball.

But I do fish, and in the context of being an adult, I have expanded fishing to chatting with buddies about steelhead flies, tying flies, watching casting videos, reading, researching fly-rods, reels, line, companies, lodges, resorts, properties and if I get the chance, actually put a hook in the water.

If not, yarn in a tree isn’t all that bad.
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