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Fly Fishing - An Angler's Prayer Gets Answered
By Joanne Tynedale
The hike into Cedar Creek in the Oregon Coast Range is steep, dropping almost a thousand feet in 3 miles. I haven't always been willing to go to those great lengths to find a good spot for fishing, but I finally found the form of fishing that turned the attraction of the sport from a mystery to an obsession. Fly fishing.
My dad took me fishing on the occasional Sunday, back when I was a child in South Dakota. We fished in the shallow lakes for little catfish called bullheads. I was not impressed by this activity, or rather this lack of activity. We spent the afternoons being very quiet and sitting still. Looking back, I understand why my dad enjoyed it. A farmer who worked long hours in the summer, when he was fishing he had a good excuse to sit in a lawn chair by the water, doing not much of anything except casting and reeling in the line once in a while. To my younger self, those slow motion afternoons had very little appeal.
I was in college before I was exposed to a different fishing technique. A friend took me ice fishing. For similar reasons, once again I was not impressed. There we were in a dark shack on a sunny winter day, poised over a hole in the ice, silent and still (except for the periodic whoosh of another beer can being opened), waiting for a perch to swim by. This was actually worse than fishing for bullheads because instead of it being a hot summer day by the water, we were sitting in frozen chairs with our feet resting on a lake turned to ice. One experience in the ice fishing shack was plenty for me.
Not until a change in jobs caused me several years later to leave Minnesota and move to the Pacific Northwest did I even think about fishing again. In Oregon, I met Greg, who eventually became my husband. He was my ideal, except for one serious flaw - Greg is an avid angler. He is so dedicated to fishing that he had an entire room in his house specifically set up to store his fishing gear. His drift boat occupied the one bay in his garage while his car and truck were parked in sun and rain year round.
You know how it is, with the first stages of romance, when you're willing to go along with things you wouldn't even consider otherwise. So, I found myself fishing pole in hand once again. There we are on the banks of a pretty little stream and I've got his ultra-light, trout rod in hand. I step onto a wet mossy rock, slip, fall into the water, scare away all the fish for a mile, and break the tip of the pole. Not an auspicious beginning.
Greg's next gambit at turning me into an angler was to take me ocean fishing. Knowing that I love the beach, he figured this would be just my thing. With the Evinrude outboard motor on his drift boat, we went over the bar and out of the bay to open ocean. The water wasn't even rough, but the swells tossed our little boat without mercy, and that, combined with the gas fumes from the motor, soon had me sickly leaning over the side of the boat. Not romantic, for sure.
Trolling for bass came next. Nice warm days on one of the Oregon Coast Rivers. We got in the drift boat, put out a line for bass, and floated downstream. I really liked being on the water in the sun. Things had changed since being a kid. These days, I appreciated being able to sit in the sun doing nothing~.. until the fish started biting. I didn't like being interrupted from sun-bathing and having to take them off the hook. Catching and then releasing a bunch of poor little bass didn't make sense to me. Why ruin both our days? So I was willing to be in the fishing boat, but not fishing. I thought it was a good compromise.
Greg is nothing if not persistent. He wanted me to be his fishing buddy as well as his wife, and I could see the value in the long run of sharing some hobbies, so I was game to give fishing one more try. That's when he introduced me to fly fishing. Bingo! It's impossible to describe why I love it. I guess it has something to do with the rhythm and grace of it. The mesmerizing experience of standing in rushing water. And the power, the absolute thrill of feeling a fish strike.
Just like before, Greg has an entire room in our new house dedicated to fishing gear, but it's a bigger room this time. We needed space to hold my fishing gear, too.