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Reflections off the Water

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Over the course of my years I’ve been compared to many things: I’ve been called “the other” Martha Stewart; a Bulldog – once I bite, my jaw locks and I don’t let go; and crazy. Most definitely I have a Type A personality and everyone that has crossed my path will agree, without any hesitation, that I am a perfectionist. But really, that’s redundant since I already admitted to being a Type A. Curiously, I have also spent a tremendous amount of time with men – yeah, yeah, raise your eyebrows. I mean, in the business world. Real estate and industrial land development mostly. Most definitely male dominated arenas, at least back in the early 90’s. Not surprising, here I am again, surrounded by men, in the fly fishing world. I’m not complaining – that doesn’t go over well with men – in fact, there are benefits: Life is mostly drama-less. I can drop “F” bombs and not turn heads – usually. And, I can wear the same fishing shirt multiple days at a time and no one notices. All solid benefits. Most days when I fish or conduct business meetings, or even go on a sales call, its men I’m dealing with. I’m confident and hang just fine thank you, but there are those moments, particularly on the water, that I miss the female compadre. Mind you, I can squat in the woods, drink beer and catch fish with the boys and have a f***** awesome time (see what I mean about the “F” bombs, they just roll from my mouth). But I have to admit, I find myself hoping that more women will find their way into tenkara.

The weirdest part of this is when I fish, I usually avoid the whole leap frog experience and am sort of a loner. I admit it, I’m greedy. I want the holes and I want to catch fish and I don’t love it when someone filters the water ahead of me or cleans up the waters behind me. Quite frankly, it pisses me off damn it! Tenkara is the closest thing I’ve experienced to an addiction. I was leery to begin and now I can’t stop and want to hoard all the pockets to myself. It’s shameful. It’s that whole Type A thing I mentioned earlier…my parents fault really. I mean genetics are f***** genetics, right. Ooops, I did it again.

But back to my point. I am competitive and often feel the need to prove myself on the water. In fact, I put so much pressure on myself that for the first 20 minutes I suck! NO, like really suck. I can’t explain it, or maybe I can, but I screw up and cast crappy and tangle and wad up my line like a freak’en baby. I think it has something to do with my competitiveness and “need to succeed”. I literally have to talk myself down from crazy and often take a time out. I slow my thoughts and breathe deep, then start again. And just like that, it’s gone and I settle into simply fishing. I still surprise myself and celebrate when I pick a spot, cast the line, and hit a fish. That, by far, is the coolest thing since ice cream. And I feel a sense of accomplishment when I unhook my fish and quietly thank it before releasing it. I stand up feeling a little taller and a little prouder. All women should experience that. Maybe they do. But throw in the beautiful setting, the sound of the water, the freshness of the river, and it’s an extra special way of getting to that place of “feel good.” I highly recommend it.

I can remember the day when I would only love fishing when I was actually catching the fish. Then there was this whole anxiety of touching it that followed. Yes, I will admit publicly, I was afraid to touch fish – even worse, take the hook out of its mouth. The whole twitchy movements combines with the close proximity to a mouth and yes, I feared I would get bit. Go ahead and f***** laugh if you must but the fear was real. Silly as is sounds, I overcame that too. Just another reason to throw my shoulders back a little farther. And for the record, I will admit one final confession: For years I used my husband’s waders. They were big, they were stinky but they functioned just fine. The day we shopped for my own pair was a turning point if you will. A passive acceptance to this new hobby of mine, a surrendering to the trout addiction and to a life style of fishing. I committed myself – maybe just because of the financial investment, maybe because it was an activity I would share with my husband, maybe because I have an internal love for water. I will never know why. But, as I narrowed my decision down and made my choice, without hesitation, I did ask, “Do these waders make my butt look fat?”


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