As I was leaving work on Thursday, excitement growing for the Friday holiday preceding our nation's independence day, my roommate sent me a text message. “I think someone’s broken into our house.” Sure enough, our laptops were gone, a gaming console and some cash also missing. Not the start to the weekend I had hoped for, but I had a fishing trip planned, and I wasn’t going to let this burglary sour my weekend. Friday morning, as I pieced together my gear in preparation for the day’s float, I saw the backyard gate ajar and knew instantly that the thieves had come back late during the night and stolen my bike out of the shed.
I must admit that I was disappointed and feeling sorry for myself. I thought about this injustice done to me and about those who would do such a thing. Then I thought about people elsewhere that endured life threatening injustices daily. My bike and laptop are replaceable, and I realized that I wasn’t upset so much about losing these things, but about thinking of the thieves benefiting from their crime. Again, I had to remind myself not to wallow in self pity, but to be thankful for freedom and safety. I filed a police report, then left for the river, grateful that I could simply leave this trouble behind.
Fishing requires focus, and maybe that is partly why we love it. Our thoughts, left alone, can easily turn towards self destruction. Fishing provides an outlet where we can channel thoughts towards a conceivable goal, and there is simply no room for negative thoughts when you are catching fish.
And catch fish we did.
The idle threat of rain seemed to keep most people off the river, although nothing materialized other than an occasional mist. About midday with the rise in temperature, damselflies of all colors began appearing, landing on anything they could. The fish responded to the surge of insect activity with consistent topwater action through the remainder of the day. My friend and proud owner of a fishing raft, Charlie, brought along his brother who had never fished for smallmouth bass before. It comes as no surprise that his brother caught the biggest smallmouth bass I have ever seen in person. When he hooked the fish on his spinning rod, a hush fell over the boat. Charlie and I took on somber tones as we voiced instructions for fighting the fish, maybe because we didn’t want to get too excited lest the fish come off or maybe because we didn’t want to burden his brother with the unnecessary stress of our own frantic thoughts. Whatever the reason behind the tense silence, it was broken once the fish passed that invisible line into the net. Knowing the quality of fish that lay before us, Charlie and my excitement rivaled his brother’s. In that moment, all thoughts of my lost possessions completely left my mind and only joy remained.
Photos graciously provided by Charlie Church as I am currently without a laptop.