To understand fully the quandary I faced Saturday, I’ll have to volunteer that the first time I remember my cell phone ringing while fishing was in 2007. I was trout fishing on the Klawock River back home, where reception is spotty at best. But the call made it through and lit up my pocket. Though I was fishing and I risked setting a precedent, I answered. After all, it was my mom and it was about dinner.
From this has stemmed a habit I am not particularly proud of, but not especially worried about. I send river-side text messages of fish to friends that aren’t fishing. It’s cruel, yes, but it’s reciprocated and accepted among my angling friends.
Saturday afternoon the phone wasn’t already out to take a picture of a trout and the ring wasn’t from mom, but I answered anyway. The business was a solid seven out of 10 on the urgency scale. It could have waited I guess, but the fish weren’t biting.
I kept fishing.
With one hand I drifted my nymph in the current then tossed it back up river with sedate enthusiasm now that I was distracted by speaking into my hand.
A fish took.
I had too much slack in my line, so I lifted the rod and arched backward nearly dropping my phone. The fish jumped and I stumbled, nearly dropping my rod.
“Man I have to go. It’s a huge fish.”
I was pressing the fly-line to the rod with my finger to keep tension, but with an active fish early in the fight unforgiving tension is an ultimatum. I ended the call, knelt down and put my phone on the rock behind me, then reeled up the slack, backed off the fish a bit and started playing.
The trout wasn’t as big as I initially thought. I released it then went to work on the vicious knot created by the slack between the first nymph and the trailing midge.
Once all that was done, I finished the conversation.
To assume that all lovers of wild things are immune to the temptations of the sometimes sickening availability of technological advancement is absurd.
Though the cry of solitude is what is most commonly cited as the reason for getting out, technology has infiltrated the experience but hasn’t ruined it. Guide buddies of mine send updates from the water. Location is always a secret, but for potential clients watching from home, it whets the appetite and greases the credit card. Others utilize mobile social media just because it’s there.
Since I had no real reason to answer civilization and I did, I wondered, what had I become?
I decided to enlist professional, fail-proof help — Facebook.
Facebook is great because it reduces everything; faith, politics, philosophy and culture into manageable cartoons so you don’t have to actually read or understand anything anymore. You can make voting, spiritual and relational decisions based on how many other people “shared” and “liked” things and keep the brain free of pesky things like critical thinking.
So I decided to post the abstract of my phone answering/fishing ordeal and let others tell me what I should think.
Some were almost offended, as if I said I had eaten a tuna fish sandwich, drank a pot of coffee then took a nap before going to the dentist. Others friendly chided.
I’m still not clear on the issue, and I will probably still bury my phone and wallet in my gear rather than lock it in my truck, but one thing is certain, it would take a lot more than a phone to ruin a day on the water.
To contact Jeff Lund, email email@example.com.