I read a great deal, some weeks more than others, but for the most part I like to engage my brain as much as possible on a daily basis and manuscript is how I prefer to exercise that part of my body.  Every day that I inch closer to that half century mark in age, I cannot help but notice the increasing appreciation that I have for some writers ability to set the tone with their work.

The tone of a well written piece can give you a pretty good idea on what the authors feelings are on any given topic.  As I grow older I have recognized that my thoughts and feelings on many things fishing and non fishing related have changed, and my appreciation for those types of people who aren’t afraid to skirt an issue, dump the politically correct mindset and politely yet directly tell you what they think about a particular topic.  I am however not going to lie, these types are getting harder and harder to come by these days; I don’t know if cancel culture, technology and it’s way of taking over communication are the culprits of pushing these types into a deeper hiding, but it sure seems that they are becoming an almost mythical creature of yesteryear.

Personally, I think society as a whole is getting soft; social media has built this fictitious alter universe where people are sucked into a world where everything is now one big fairy tale with the forever happy ending.  This is an unrealistic, unsustainable way of thinking as life isn’t always a bowl full of cherries as one would say.  Sometimes I feel as though we have all devalued just about every aspect of our lives as a result, because for example, if we aren’t posting some awesome picture or thing about ourselves well we are led to believe that we simply do not add up to those around us.  Heck, if you were to use Instagram as your baseline, well you could easily be swayed into believing that a 20 inch trout is the norm and not a very special fish.  But that is of course partly to blame for the camera savvy angler who knows all to well that if you stick the fish way out to the camera you can make that 16 inch fish 20 inches; come on bruh you didn’t you know?

I too got sucked into this alter universe, it all seemed rather harmless and fun in the beginning, but over time reality settled in and I began realizing that I was spending a great deal of my day swiping through my feed like an addict.  I’m not alone, I see it all around me with friends, family and strangers alike who are constantly doing the same.  A quick second delay in anything they are watching, participating in, or listening to and the phone comes out and 8 times out of 10 they go right to their favorite social media platform to see what so and so is doing/posting so they can like it and then start thinking about what they can construct next to satisfy that dopamine drop.  We all want to feel accepted, we all want to be liked, there is no disputing that.  But the majority of us have let a small electronic device dictate our daily course of life, and for some several hours a day.

I digress once again but I think you all know what I am getting at; do yourself a favor and unplug.  It does wonders for your mind and gets many of you close in age to myself back to a time with a little less anxiety and a lot more fun, and heck you might start valuing the smaller things in life that you very well might have forgotten about in this new world of multi tasking madness that we live in.  To get back on point, I feel that today I can relate to that old curmugeon I used to bump into on the river when I was younger.

Some of you might know who I am referring to; the old grisled type, probably retired who frequents the river on a daily basis in search of that one thing that can make his battered and bruised persona feel like there is still some things right in this world every time that he finds a rising trout.  He’s that guy who is either wandering the bank of a large flat pool in search of dimpling trout, wearing a tattered old curved brim baseball cap, vintage khaki Orvis vest, possibly brown neoprene waders or first gen goretex with no dazzle, and a rod with cork so worn out it practically matches the color of the rod blank.  The guy who revels in how things were when he was a kid, or remember those days when he didn’t have to share water with anyone else. The guy who truly doesn’t care if he catches a trout today nor does he carry a counter in his vest pocket to tally his score like the folks above him wading chest deep in the fast water with their 11 foot rods and ten pounds of tungsten laden fly boxes.  He is content visiting the water daily, sometimes he never even gets his feet wet, or unhooks his fly from the keeper of his rod.  But, if a fish graces his presence with a surface display of affection, he might just unhook that fly and step into the water because well that is what draws him to the river.   If he wasn’t here, he wouldn’t have witnessed it, and although his way of fishing might not be the most productive, he takes part in it because it is what he truly loves and it embodies what the sport once was when he fell in love with it decades ago; casting a fly line and presenting a fly to a feeding fish.

As humans, we all have a side of us that wants the things that we enjoy all to ourselves.  For flyfisherman, it’s invariably that favorite stretch of water without another soul on it, and that may seem foreign to todays younger generation of anglers as fishing amongst groups of people is considered the new norm.   It wasn’t all that long ago where solitude and a river to oneself was the tie that binds most anglers, the story that those who knew fully understood and appreciated.  Although to some that may seem like more of a pipe dream with almost 8 billion people on this planet, it has become more and more of what makes a good day a great day regardless of how many fish I may tangle with, even though catching fish never has seemed to be an issue.

I am starting now to fully understand just where that guy was coming from........