I nestled into a spot in the tangled roots of rhododendrons and oak trees along the banks of the Davidson River, the sun shining diamonds onto the surface of the water. I stared into the crystal water searching for small shadows of the trout Wyatt always points out to me. I saw none. I donned the polarized glasses with the hopes to amplify the sneaky fish, but no. Nothing.
I took my first cast, slinging the small rooster tail into the middle of the river with a tiny splash and began slowly reeling it in, hearing Wyatt’s voice in my head, reminding me to keep the tip of my rod down. Nothing. I carefully pinned the fishing line against the rod, flipped the spinner bail, slung it again, and BRANNNNNG! I guess I hadn’t entirely flipped the bail, because the rooster tail simply spun around the tip of the rod. Harumph. I carefully unwound it from itself and tried again. This time it slung side ways into the overhanging rhododendrons. I gently tugged and flipped the end of the rod up to unsnag it. This was easy, because I have spent the last seven years becoming adept at unsnagging Wyatt’s lures. Several more attempts at the perfect cast, and snag, there it went into the small eddy where the trout were sure to be hiding. I was enjoying the peace, away from camp and all eight little boys vying for attention or simply just boisterously messing with each other.
A single white blossom of rhododendron hovered over the water, framed by two trees with a wisp of mist behind it, lingering over the surface of the river. I was easily distracted by the beauty and began snapping pictures, using different exposures. This led to selfies of me in my fishing bliss. Little fishing, but lots of bliss. I decided I needed to be IN the river, since I had just seen the small splash of a fish. This is when I realized that I did not wear my water shoes. I decided bare foot would be fine. I teetered into the sharp rocky river, yelping and tripping with every step until I found myself in the middle of the current near where I saw the splash. I tried to decide if people watching would be 1)impressed with my skills 2)wondering what in the hell I was doing flailing around in the river with a rod.
At this point I tried to decide whether it would be smarter to cast upstream or downstream. I began with upstream and immediately snagged my lure under a rock. I tugged up, let some line out so the current could dislodge the lure, tugged again, and secured it even deeper under the rock. I took slow, painful steps until I could lift the rock from the tiny lure. I casted again, this time downstream, and was able to watch the lure as I reeled it back…slowly, like he tells me. By now, fish are jumping all around me. Mocking me. I cast to the left, cast to the right, but I am always at least a foot away from my aim. They continue jumping in glee. In freedom.
I cast again, and hit my spot dead-on. I drag the lure in a way that makes me feel certain that I will finally tempt the trout onto my line, but no, here is the empty lure once again. I begin to realize that fishing for me is just a way to practice casting, and should I actually get a fish, it would be a simple accident on the part of the fish, without so much of an ounce of skill on my behalf. Wyatt tells me there is no “luck” in fishing. You either know what you’re doing, or you don’t. I sigh. I snag the line again. I yank so hard that it flies out from beneath the rock, snaps back and snags in my own bushy hair. I stumble back to the bank, clutching rhododendron roots and the rod dangling from my head in search of my shoes. I walk back to camp, dragging my rod behind me so that Wyatt can untangle me from myself.