The Art of the Catch

By Sawyer Quint

On the river things changed. John’s whole persona was different. He had a different attitude when he stared casting and it didn’t ever change until he put his waders away and put his pole in the back of his truck. He would get into a rhythm of casting and soon the world around him faded. He was dimly aware when people walked by or stopped to watch the swaying of is pole or how he slowly pulled in the line but mostly he was caught in his own little world. Fly fishing was an art and a soothing action. It helped him release all of his anger and sadness and pain away while he stood in the water waiting for a fish to bite. As he cast out his fly again a cool wind hit him in the back chilling him just enough to make him shudder for half a second. The water around him still flowed and he could hear it fall on itself smoothly, but everything else seemed to be completely still. The only sounds he could hear were his soft breath, his pole slowly pulling in the line and the water flowing slowly downstream. He felt the warmth in his body as the world stilled around him. Ever since his wife was taken from him, fly fishing was his release. He felt as though the only way he ever got his mind off of the fact that the love of his life was gone was throwing out a line and letting his mind wander to other things.

The wind blew around him once again and he felt his line tug just the slightest. There was a fish at least checking out what he had. He gave a slight tug back to show the fish his fly was worth going for. As he did this, he watched his line like a hawk watches a squirrell right before he swoops down to clasp it in his talons. The line tugged a bit harder and he flicked his wrist up setting the hook through the lip of the fish. The line went tight and soon was pulling out of his reel quickly. He pulled pack and watched as the fish struggled hard to get away. The he started the slow process of letting the fish pull away and grow tired before reeling in again slowly and getting the fish closer and closer. Pretty soon the line started gathering in the water around his feet. The fish was getting closer and closer. He knew it was a big one because of the fight it had put up. The process was a little tiring but it was going to be worth it and he knew it. The fish pulled away again and soon more line was away from him than at his feet. 

He pulled slowly, his old bones creaking, but he hadn’t fought like this in years. He was going to catch this fish no matter what. He pulled and pulled more and felt his mind pushing toward his wife. He thought about the struggle of cancer and how hard he had tried to believe and help her to keep going until there was no question. She had stopped him at one point while he was ranting about treatments and how they would work this time. Charlotte had old him “You can’t worry anymore.. I am alright John. This is my time and the only thing I need to finish this is your love. I am done fighting a losing war when i have better things to worry about and spend my time on..” He felt his eyes well up as he remembered how her hand as weak as it was had touched his cheek. The fish pulled again and this time he didn’t let the line go out. He pulled back and fought the fish as it seemed like a battle between two old legends. The fish had heart but John wouldn’t let him win. He struggled hard and felt the fish start to relax. He gave another tug and watched as the biggest rainbow trout he had ever seen or heard of gave in and waited in the water as still as John’s boots that he had planted in the mud during the fight between him and the monster of a fish. He slowly bent down, his arms dead from the constant struggle. He put his hands softly around the fish and remembered his frail wife’s soft smile the day before she was gone forever. He lifted the fish out of the water and admired its beauty and size. A million emotions hit him at once and he slowly lowered the old monster back into the river. He felt a connection to the fish in a strange way. As it swam away he felt the sun hit his back, and he took it in feeling the warmth again. His eyes were still full of tears as he walked off of the river and and felt the sounds and life come back around him. He walked up to his truck, put away his waders and pole, and let out a deep breath as he got into his truck and drove home.