Fishing Life As It Happens

A meditation on fly-fishing

Buying tomatoes

So there I was at the Lansing, North Carolina farmer’s market, buying tomatoes from the nice Rose Mountain Farm lady.

Before the farmer’s market people set up their pop-ups

“Where are y’all located?”

“We’re up Big Horse Creek Road.”

“I’m headed up there this afternoon to go fishing.”

“That’s the main reason that anybody goes up there. Do you go for the meditation, or to catch fish?”

Well, let me think about that for a moment. It was 27 years ago that I first tried fly-fishing, thanks to my dear departed cousin Dean C. Jones. Once you’ve had a trout take a dry fly off the top the water, man, you’re way more hooked than the fish is.

But I’m not a studied fly fisherman. I don’t read the books, watch the training videos, take the classes, any of it. Because the truth is that it really is a meditation for me. A few days earlier, I was chatting with the fellow at the Old Orchard Creek General Store and Café, and told him that I was headed out to go fishing.

“I hope you catch some.”

“If I’m standing in a trout stream on a day like this, and I’m not blissfully happy, then that’s on me.”

“Well, that’s right.”

I find myself settled just looking at this picture. Imagine actually being there.

So I was tempted to tell the lady that it’s all about the meditation. But then I had an interesting thought, and relayed it to her:

“The more I meditate, the more fish I seem to catch.”

In the last year or two, I’ve started to have some real success catching fish. On this current trip, I’ve caught a handful of trout in Little Horse Creek, right here in front of my AirBnB.

I don’t stop to take pictures, but I promised my AirBnB hosts one pic. He went right back in.

This is significant because N.C. Wildlife doesn’t stock Little Horse Creek. They do stock Big Horse Creek, of which Little Horse Creek is a tributary. Some fish make it up there, but fewer than in the stocked streams. And maybe they get a tad smarter after being up there a while. So I’m particularly proud of myself for catching fish in a stream they don’t stock.

Here’s the thing: when I go out for a few hours of fly fishing, I’d like to catch one trout. The difference between getting skunked and catching one beautiful fish is enormous. After that, my cup overfloweth. But on this trip, and the last couple, I seem to catch 6-8 fish every day. That’s after years of thinking that if I caught two fish, it was an extra special day.

October 14th, 2023

I headed up to the northern end of Big Horse Creek, to the catch-and-release section. From there to the Virginia state line, you can’t keep any fish. I never keep any anyway, but it’s particularly beautiful and fishy water.

I also have a theory that the fish are a bit smarter. A lot of people in this county fish for dinner, so the stocked fish go from stream to pan. But in this stretch, they get put back. Where maybe they learn their lesson and don’t bite at every single buggy-looking thing that floats over.

I dunno if that’s true or not, but I sure had a tougher time getting strikes than when I was down on the lower part of the creek. Still, I managed to land three rainbows and one beautiful brown.

Around 5:30pm, it was getting dark-ish, and there was a light rain falling. I had determined I was going to have to scale a fairly steep hill up to Big Horse Creek Road to return to my car (it’s just a whole lot easier than clambering back downstream to my entry point).

I was pretty proud of myself for catching four fish in the “tough” section of the stream. And darn proud for climbing out of that canyon back up to the road without too much exertion. All that walking and jogging pays off.

Then a thing happened. I stood up at the top of the hill, and looked down the road, back to the car. Saw this:

I wanted to find the Rose Mountain Farm lady, and tell her I’d been mistaken when we chatted that afternoon. The correct answer is, “Yes ma’am – it’s all about the meditation.”

P.S. On most browsers, you can right-click on any image and open the image in a new tab. No picture will properly convey the beauty of the scene that awaited me when I reached the top of the hill. But you’ll do your heart good by filling your screen with that for a minute and just taking it in.