This last weekend I was able to spend some good time on the Blue River. The water flow was low enough that I could pretty much walk straight up the river at times to get to my favorite holes. I love it when the water gets this low. I can hit many spots and stay off of the residential properties that are there. I do carry a neighborhood fishing pass that kind of allows me to be on the banks on that side of the river but I still prefer to be respectful of privacy. The river is public access on one side and private neighborhood on the other. The neighbors can be really snippy at times for sure so I would rather avoid confrontations and just fish.
The nice part about fishing this river when it is at this flow point is that I can get to some areas and fish some spots that are sometimes too difficult to trek back into.
One thing that struck me as I walked from hole to hole was that I needed to pay attention to the river bottom. The water was still flowing fairly steady in some places and my feet were slipping occasionally. Keeping my footing became a real meditation for me through the day. I tried to be aware of each step I took and each rock or couple of rocks I was stepping on. I had to smile as I found myself moving a little cat-like at times.
We so often get caught up in our heads, shoulders and casting arms and forget to think about the body as a whole as we fish. I am not yoga practitioner and probably should consider taking up yoga. According to my wife "it couldn't hurt." I do believe that we tend to get a little too tied up in our heads and we miss certain sensations at times. These sensations can both add to as well as improve our experience and effectiveness when we fish.
So while I fished I started to consider my whole body. I considered deeply my posture and how I was positioning myself. I looked around and made sure that I was in the best place where I could cast to the best drifts. I felt the flow of the stream, how anchored my feet were, if I was standing too high and therefore also making myself too visible to fish. I paid attention to my casts, my grip, the weight of the rod and to my whole body. With this I found I was more present to a lot of things but more than anything I was in the moment and not lost in thought.
I have a tendency to let my thoughts drift sometimes. When I am lost in those thoughts I miss a strike or get emotionally tangled in the fantasies of problems that sometimes arise and don't find myself enjoying fishing.
I do see Tenkara as a wonderful and simple meditation practice.
You may have that zone that you fall into. I say look at that "zone" and decide if you are connected and aware when you are there in it. Are you in your body or in your mind? It is not a "one or the other" situation. You can find a balance of both.
While I didn't catch fish that day, I did have a few strikes and did find my mind settled more at the end of the day. Maybe even a little calmer and less frustrated about not landing anything. I know that the more of this kind of fishing I do the better I will become.
Dennis Vander Houwen lives in Colorado with his patient and supportive wife, talented artist son, a smart older dog, a new river puppy, and a very lucky cat.