Harpers Ferry

I cherish the solitude that is only found in the wilderness, but I also love sharing in the wonder with close friends. Nature can be overwhelmingly spectacular and a second set of eyes help confirm the beauty does in fact exist.

A few weeks ago, a childhood friend came to visit DC for a few days. A shared fondness for adventure that has remained much unchanged since our kindergarten days set pace for the weekend. Also unchanged remains the constant struggle of too many activities and too little time. With only a few days together, a creative combination of activities seemed the only solution. Even so, the options are many: kayaking and fly-fishing, backpacking and fly-fishing, [insert here] and fly-fishing. We decided that canoeing and fly-fishing down the Potomac River might be the best use of time. Is there a better way to sight see, visit historic towns, experience a culturally significant river, and catch some fish? If there is, I want to know… I need to know.  

Fly-fishing is a sport that demands patience and focus, and I am easily distracted. My attention shifts from fishing to paddling a canoe, watching birds, or simply observing the shoreline. This would be a problem if I was fishing for sustenance and survival, but I’m not. I’m fishing to be outdoors and relax. I’m fishing to enjoy nature with friends. I have learned to embrace the distractions as reminders of the joy of being outside. The freedom to take a couple minutes or an hour to be still and observe leaves of a tree is an incredible freedom to have. Such was the mentality on our canoe trip. We set out to have fun and fish along the way and we accomplished both.

Warm weather and good flows and seemingly perfect smallmouth bass conditions was not reflected in the number of fish we caught. A wet spring and early summer shouldered much of the blame. Distractions to the angler could have been another reason. The handful of fish we managed to find came from slowly bouncing a crayfish pattern off the bottom. It seems the lethargic feel of the stagnant humid air had penetrated the water and only the slowest fly movements got a response.   

The beauty of setting out with the objective of fun is that it is not dependent on fishing. While fishing certainly maximizes the fun, if the fish are not biting, it is important to reflect back on the number one goal: fun.

Photos Credits: Donnie Hedden and his Polaroid camera

My friend, Steve, fighting a catfish.

My friend, Steve, fighting a catfish.