Slow and low…

I haven’t written in months…both because I have not fished and because I haven’t felt I have had words worth reading. Not that life has not been full. There has been some hunting, but nothing memorable. There have been no flies in the vice, no wet waders, no stories to tell. There has just been work – all around me and at all times – just work. Life comes in seasons like this.

And it wears us down. We get tired. The busy consumes our perspective. Lists are begotten to more lists which yield nothing but tasks completed and tasks still undone.

Then, on a fifty-five degree January day I went fishing. Even after months of absence, the routine was natural. As I entered the water, I stopped and I considered the trout. The water was clear and cold. The sky was clear, the wind was calm. They will be deep. They will be slow.

A dry dropper to start. Not because I expect them to be feeding on a red humpy, but because I can see it and I want to avoid the frustration of watching a brook trout dunk my strike indicator. The size 18 pheasant tail trails ten inches below… nothing.

As I work my way up the stream, a stream I have never been to before, a stream it took me an hour to find… I can hear the conversation in my mind…. “Slow Down….Slow Down….”

I switch to a double-nymph rig. Tungsten beed head frenchie and a purple perdigon. I raise my strike indicator all the way up the leader. I find the deepest holes. Still….nothing.

I continue up stream for about a mile. There is no trail. No indication this stream feels pressure. The water is beautiful. The canyon is deep. I cast careful and deliberate. Nothing. “Slow Down” I continue to hear, like an echo down the hollow, like an echo through my soul.

As I fish, I am reminded of what I have been missing. I am reminded that the search for trout up a thin blue line is like a search for God…a reminder He was there all along; we just did not slow down enough to visit, to consider, to get to know.

And so it is only right that I never caught a fish. I did not deserve to. I had neglected the art too long. I moved too fast. I was not deep enough – not slow enough – not relaxed enough to bring it together in the way required to connect wild trout to fly in a January stream.

But life did slow down, and in that afternoon I was reminded of what I had neglected. That stream made me promise to maintain perspective and balance – to slow down and to get low beneath the noise of daily life – to tick the rocks of what is true and constant.

As I walked back to the truck, being both disappointed and grateful, the stream whispered to me over the cascades and riffles…”Slow down…then come try again…”

And so I will.

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