When I was a little boy nothing gave me more joy and happiness than a trip to my grandfathers house. First of all my grandfather was just beyond awesome but he also lived next to a lot of woods, with a creek, a mysterious swamp a long walk away, there were a couple of old abandoned houses in the woods, and an old abandoned nursery/greenhouse as well. As if that weren’t enough on the other side of the barbed wire fence behind a very large garden in the back was a golf course with ponds. Sometimes when my parents were ready to leave I would hide in the woods and get to stay an extra day or two and sleep out in the screened in porch and play checkers with my Grandaddy.
Once I was set free in the woods every snake, frog, turtle, salamander, lizard, newt, and interesting bug was in serious danger of being captured. I knew just where to look and how to capture them and study their delicate beauty. And back then in the early 60’s they were very abundant, today not so much, even so when I go back to Maryland I try to get to a wooded area with a creek and find a few salamanders to re-kindle the joy of my youth for a few minutes. The garden was full of box turtles that came to eat strawberries and tomatoes. The creek of course had frogs and crayfish and beautiful magenta/orange salamanders with electric blue freckles as well as many other types of salamanders, water snakes, and turtles including soft shells, snappers, and various minnows and chubs. The woods were also home to all kinds of snakes, salamanders, lizards, frogs, toads and turtles. Some of the most interesting specimens were various types of tree frogs, salamanders, and my favorite the diminutive ring neck snake, there were also intimidating large black snakes as well...(they were mean in the spring) once detected it was only a mater of time before I would capture them. I loved entering the special world of the woodlands and peeling back the curtain and getting a glimpse of what these creatures lives were like, every log or rock could be hiding a unique and special creature. Just as I write this I can almost smell the damp leaf litter and hear the gurgling waters. How exciting!
I think Trout fishing gives me the same kind of joy that I experienced in the woods in my youth. Each fish is like an individual jewel. I have never seen an ugly trout! I enjoy all types of fishing. I fish for everything from catfish & carp, to muskies, & trout and everything in between, but the older I get the more I am pulled toward fly fishing for trout, I think part of it is the beautiful and wild places in which they reside. There Is nothing that clears my head and puts me more at ease and into my happy place like fishing. I love gardening also but it is a very distant 2nd behind fishing. Sometimes we get caught up in the competition of wanting a body count or setting a goal of catching a specimen of a certain size (something I am certainly guilty of doing) and that’s OK but we should also remember to enjoy the simple pleasures of experiencing the surroundings and whatever the day has to offer. Slowing down a bit and looking at the little details like bugs, interesting plants, the beauty of polished river rocks, should be part of the joy of fishing. I really enjoy fishing in inclement weather, I feel more intimate with the environment on a drizzly day for instance. Any day you can go fishing is a good day, so get out there and experience the wonderful adventures and memories fly fishing has to offer.