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Two Hours of Fishing

Two hours fishing is better than no hours of fishing. Two hours of listening to water in a rush to find a way of over and around rocks is better than two hours of music. Pools and eddys, riffles and runs - they look like a painting you've stepped into. You can find great satisfaction if you just look at them patiently.

The modern life is a good life. There are many things to divert your attention. Modernity has made so many things easier. Whatever you need or want, within reason, is attainable. Think how someone like George Washington or Alexander the Great would feel if they were time warped to the present. Convenience is ubiquitous in almost every construct of man's. The only construct which can neither be improved, amended, prolonged, shortened, or compartmentalized is time. Time remains constant as it always has, ever flowing. It rushes by like the water over rocks. We can hear it sometimes. Other times we forget it as it flows under some bridge or around some curve.

Time for certain is a scare resource. It is something there just isn’t enough of. There are things to do at all times. Somebody always needs you or you always need to do something. It can be disheartening because you just don’t have enough time.

A few years ago I had this professor tell me it wasn’t about having time but making time. This was a new idea, I thought. But a little introspection on the subject helps. Like most people know, if you want to do stuff you gotta make the time to do it. Additionally it’s very easy to regurgitate this as a maxim, another thing to pull the trigger on it.

Which brings me to fishing; I love the fall. The weather is a relief from the humid Mid-Atlantic summer, the clothing is more comfortable, and there isn’t a better time to be in the woods. Hunting, fishing, hiking - a holy Trinity for any and all who treasure the outdoors. The restorative properties of the woods are best exemplified during the fall. There is a crispness to the air. Breaks in the sky of blistering sun through cold air and pockets of thermals add welcome variety. The crunch of leaves under foot underlines it. The woods and streams can break any blues. They can provide the sounding board you are in search of. They are a safe place for experimentation with your emotions and mentalities. The woods ask very little in return - save that you leave them as you found them.

Daniel Boone probably said it best, “You see now how little nature requires, to be satisfied. Felicity, the companion of content, is rather found in our own breasts than in the enjoyment of external things, and I firmly believe it requires but a little philosophy to make a man happy in whatsoever state he is. This consists in a full resignation to the will of Providence, and a resigned soul finds pleasure in a path strewed with briers and thorns.”

Trout fishing in New Jersey is great in the fall too. The waters are stocked allowing for generous opportunities in landing fish. The only issue is that the stocked season coincides with deer hunting too. Now juggling hobbies is about as first world a problem that a person can have so I say that as a disclaimer. Certainly this is an embarrassment of riches. But, having to pick between the two is a coin flip and the answer will change everyday or whether or not you are "bucked out" (harvested your allotment of deer).

Weddings are a joyful and fun event no doubt about it. But dammit all if I don’t want to sneak off to the woods if even only for a spell. So when I had a wedding in Cape May last weekend, which I was looking forward to, I had a little time before we left. I made the time to fish. Now this could be the equivalent of putting 10lbs of potatoes in a 5lb bag but I would say while it's similar it's not the same. The relation is probably similar to a goose and duck. Close, but no cigar.

That morning I got up early and got in the truck and got to the river by dawn. It was an hour drive out from where I live but I put on a good playlist and enjoyed the solitude you find on dark roads when everyone is still asleep.

There was one other guy at the parking area when I got there just before dawn. He was tying some tippet I think. We said nothing to each other. We each just minded our own business.

I hiked down a small berm and to the the stream bank. Then I worked my way up from the shore. I stepped into a shallow point where I could get better angles on pools and runs I thought might hold some trout.

The slick rock and evergreens framed the water perfectly as the woods woke up. The sun tried its hardest to peak through the cloud cover but it was unsuccessful and drizzle came on down. It wasn’t bad though and you certainly didn’t need a raincoat for it.

As I fished I kept an eye on the clock. I casted hastily and snagged. So focused on the clock was I that I could hear the second hand ticking in the back of my brain. I was rushing. I was desperate to find fish. Tick-tock. Skunked. Try another hole. Hike up another 50 yards. Snagged again. That was my only egg pattern. These farm raised fish love egg patterns. Gotta remember to get some more. Let’s try some nymphs. Snagged again. It began to build, the stress of going out to do something and getting all the way out there and not doing anything. On and on the pattern went. For two hours - stressed and wanting so badly to catch fish that I almost forgot why you fish in the first place. I stopped and took a moment and just listened. The sound of the water, barking squirrels, things falling off of trees. It was bliss. Before it was too late I remembered why we fish. I hiked back to the truck and packed it up and headed home grateful for two hours of fishing.

Lest I be discouraged; back to Ole Dan'l Boone, "...a resigned soul finds pleasure in a path strewed with briers and thorns.”

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