What was a working theory is now a confirmed fishing axiom. Only suffering while fishing begets great fishing. Actual knowledge of fish, flies, or casting has nothing to do with the outcome.
It started with the blown seam in the heel of my hip boots and the obligatory pants leg of lukewarm creek water. Anyone who’s spent any real time afield recognizes leaks aren’t real suffering, it’s part of the larger woodsy experience. Waders full of water only cause real hardship when it’s the other fellow’s waders and the long walk back to the car turns swearing and misfortune into an incessant whine.
To be bemoaned at his every retelling thereafter, naturally.
Rather, real suffering starts at the Big Box sporting goods franchise, where you’re ignored by the high school girls staffing the premises, and when approached glance at you distastefully while you pantomime what fishing is … followed by your asking whether there’s any repair adhesive on the premises …
… and while their drying fingernails prevent them from actually checking the rack, they wave in the direction of the Hot Pink Shoe Goo hoping that will make you go away.
There’s little sense getting worked up at this inhumane treatment. Next time retaliate by asking where the Speedo’s are … then emerge from the dressing room wondering aloud which color makes your gut look smaller.
That’s sporting goods retail suffering, of the highest order …
Real suffering is patching those waders and crossing the creek dry, where your elation dissolves in a wave of sour and stale coming from the field above. The rich smell of blood caused by last week’s tomato harvest replaced by the thick musk of upwind fertilizer. Dry enough so you no longer fear stepping in it, but as off-putting as it’s fresh variant when spread over a couple thousand acres.
… naturally it’s the thousand acres lining the creek, and temperatures flirt with triple digits.
While the fish don’t mind and the fishing is actually quite good, you cannot help contrasting the new hole sprung in the toe, with the cool trickle coming in from the heel, and the normally welcome breeze insisting on sharing Dung from One Thousand Cows, and think of the Pristine with sudden fondness.
But I know that all this pain is for the best. I recognize that soon, somewhere, I will be rewarded for all my suffering. It’s a simple matter of endurance.