SOF: Fishing with Mystery

August 9th

This week’s Speaking of Faith is a re-run, an episode I actually remembered well. It aired last summer for the first time, when I was busy in the kitchen baking and dreaming of learning to fly fish. This year, I listened again with rapt attention — amazing considering fly fishing by radio initially sounds as fascinating as watching paint dry. But in truth, the way Krista Tippett and James Prosek discuss the art is nothing short of captivating.

Prosek is the author of  “Trout : An Illustrated History” and “The Complete Angler.” Both of these have been added to my wish list; I anticipate purchasing them for my brother and Adam, and recommending them to several other friends who adore being outside in the water. Finny is a fly fisherwoman. Listening to her describe the “zen rhythm” of casting, daydreaming and imagining the world underfoot got me thinking. I should try this.

In truth, I did try this summer for all of 30 seconds. Adam tried teaching me on the Green River in Wyoming; I hooked the back of my hand and had enough all too quickly. I connected with Prosek’s description of fly fishing being so similar to faith in that both require patience beyond belief. Neither are about immediate gratification.

The irony is I was punished with fishing as a child. My parents would take away my books and make me go with them to fish when I was grounded. How I hated it!

I particularly enjoyed two points:

1. Creativity is a gift from God because He is the creator.


2. This quote from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden:

Sometimes, after staying in a village parlor till the family had all retired, I have returned to the woods, and, partly with a view to the next day’s dinner, spent the hours of midnight fishing from a boat by moonlight … communicating by a long flaxen line with mysterious nocturnal fishes which had their dwelling forty feet below… It was very queer, especially in dark nights, when your thoughts had wandered to vast and cosmogonal themes in other spheres, to feel this faint jerk, which came to interrupt your dreams and link you to Nature again. It seemed as if I might next cast my line upward into the air, as well as downward into this element, which was scarcely more dense. Thus I caught two fishes as it were with one hook.

I can’t wait to give this sport another try.


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5 Responses

  1. The best place to learn is in the park across the street from one of our houses in AZ…out of the wind, away from the water. Learn to cast there and the rest comes pretty easy once you’re on the river. Learning to cast on the side of a river we’re not allowed to be standing on, in 50mph winds is definitely not the place for starting from scratch.

    I’d love to do some teaching when i get back, if you’re still interested. Also, see if you can get Mel Kreiger’s — Essence of FlyCasting video at the library. It explains the mechanics of the sport better than anything i’ve seen.

  2. oh oh oh I’ve been off the grid for a week and I missed you.

  3. Maybe you shoulkd watch (or re-watch) “A river runs through it” …….speaking about the zen of fly fishing

  4. Hmmmm. I don’t care for fishing, myself, but I can see the “zen” of it. Any activity that allows you time to meditate, that is about delayed gratification, and that gets you connected to other worlds can be very spiritual. Good luck with your fishing!

  5. I always think fly fishing looks so beautiful. There is so much in the way of science involved in it too. I have only attempted it a few times though. I don’t own my own gear so I am dependent on coaxing my brother in law in to working with me (he is majorly in to fly fishing), but never quite got the hang of it either. Hope your next attempt goes better!