Blackberry Farm

Friends of the Farm

A Day on the Water

The drive to the river always seems longer than I like.  At just under an hour, it seems sometimes to take half of the day to arrive at rivers edge to back the drift boat down the washed out dirt ramp and into the Holston River.  We load the boat with the faint sound of riffles in the background and eye ball a few rising fish before we ever climb aboard.  The oars slide into the locks and I ease the boat out and into the current of the river.  It never ceases to amaze me how, as we near the first set of riffles, the sound of the river can flood my head and push all of the worries that lie beyond the banks of the river away.  The river holds that fate of the day, it sets the pace, and the destination.  I will simply float along today, at its pace, steer around a rock or two, and perhaps just maybe pluck a fish or two from its crystal clear depths.

Fly fishing is not necessarily the first activity that springs to the top of a list when thinking of ways to stay fit and care for our overall physical fitness.  True, fly fishing is an active sport that does require a fair amount of coordinated movement, it is not such that would be considered physically taxing.  In fact, it should be quite the opposite.  The true value of fly fishing in ones overall wellness lies not in its calorie burning value, but instead in its inherent ability to promote a part of our health we often overlook, that of our mind.  Fly fishing is increasingly used as a form therapeutic relaxation.  But, what is it that is so implicitly relaxing about a day on the water?  Well, I am sure the answer to such a question is unique for every individual, so I will only attempt to hit the high points:

The sound of a river is notably relaxing.

A fly cast is rhythmic, and when down properly it requires very little work.

The way a river winds its way downstream, over rocks and waterfalls, is often times nothing shy of magnificent.

The setting of a river can be, and most often is, breathtaking.

And, of course, the fun of the occasional tug and undeniable beauty of a fish.

However, perhaps to fully understand why fly fishing is so relaxing I have to step back to a day when it was not my everyday job.  There was once a day when fly fishing was my escape from the stresses of everyday life.  I read somewhere that the human brain is constantly processing data and consciously thinking of up to ten things at once.  So a sport as involved as fly fishing should theoretically be a simple addition to such and perhaps in no way an escape.  There is the fly selection, the cast, the presentation, watching the fly on the water, reading the surroundings, and a host of other things for an angler to process over the course of an outing.   Perhaps it is this complete immersion that is relaxing.  To be fully successful in a day on the water, one must almost forget about everything outside of the river.  It is the full involvement in the activity that promotes relaxation.  Whereas one’s brain may be processing 10 (or more) items of varying origin; in fly fishing, we need only think of one.  

If even for a few hours, what better way to assuage one’s mind than on the water?

Small fish and big memories…
Alex Quick