Monday, May 9, 2011

Hunting Instincts

H: Last weekend, May 1st, we had a warm-up casting session on the Beaverkill with our friend, Craig. We met at the historic Roscoe diner for some breakfast before a quick (and I mean very quick) tour of downtown Roscoe a.k.a. Trout Town USA. Don't blink, you'll miss it...

This was our first time on the Beaverkill and our first outing of the 2011 season. It was a fine spring day after weeks of rain--full of possibilities. The Beaverkill itself was lovely. But for me, its natural beauty is marred by the omnipresent, towering, concrete overpasses of Route 17 that snakes over and alongside the river for miles and miles. Unfortunately, the water was quite high and insect life (except for the black flies) was minimal. Craig caught a couple of fish. Josee had a fish on. I missed a strike.

Before our session, Craig emailed us a list of items to bring. It contained the usual suspects: rod, reel, waders, rain gear, etc. What made me chuckle was the inclusion of "hunting instinct" on that list. I've been fly fishing for almost 2 years now in the company of both men and women. Even during this brief time, the difference between the fishing mentality of men and women is clearly discernable. For women, it's more of a social thing--a chance to get out in nature with friends, have a good time, and catch some fish along the way. Yes, there are moments, and a couple of women we know, who can be as singlemindedly determined as men to catch that steadily rising fish under the thicket of branches on the far undercut bank, 60 feet away. But it doesn't become our moby dick.

I remember the first time I went fishing with my friend Antoine. We hiked into a very beautiful and remote spot on the river. Antoine signals for me to slow down as we walk towards the bank to observe. He sits crouching, 3 minutes, not a word spoken. I look over at him--on his haunches like a predator, eyes/ears alert. Finally, he speaks, "There, over there... do you see him?" In my head somewhere, I hear Attenborough narrating a Nat Geo special: the predatory male lies silently in wait eyeing his prey... planning his attack... waiting to ambush...

I wonder, do I have have that hunting instinct lying latent inside of me? Being raised in New York, the only things I've seen women hunt for are husbands and the perfect pair of shoes. Why do I love fly fishing? If you ask Josee, she'll say she loves fly fishing because she loves nature. But isn't the hunting instinct the most primal part of nature, being one with it, respecting it, and understanding that we are all tied together as predators and prey.

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