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Solitude Without Loneliness

Mar 24, 2020 | Mike Lawson Mike_Portrait.jpg

In my last blog I quoted The Testament of a Fisherman by Robert Traver. I think it is one of the greatest pieces of angling literature that has ever been written. The world has changed since 1964 when he penned these lines and so have anglers. With the battle we’re currently facing the world has quickly changed as has our way of life. It is continuing to change on a daily basis. We all wonder will things ever get back to the way they were.

I don’t have an answer to that. Yet the few lines that he penned give me solace as I look forward. He said fishing is “Solitude without Loneliness.” How that hits home with so many of us in our current situation. Some of us are lucky enough to live close enough to good water that we can socially distance ourselves outside, on the water. This doesn’t mean we have a greater love or passion than those who can’t go fishing right now. If we can’t physically get out and fish there are many other things we can do.


Fly tying is a wonderful thing. When I look back on my 60+ years as a fly tier I envy the resources that are available today. Back then I wasn’t aware of any instructional books on fly tying. I already had the basics down by the time that my good friend, Jack Dennis, published his Western Trout Fly Tying Manual. Before that, I simply purchased patterns, took them apart, figured out what materials were used to construct them, and went from there. Today there are dozens of great books and step by step videos that can make almost anyone a respectable fly tier.


If we can’t actually be on the water, we can live the experience through books and videos. I’ve never read a book written by John Gierach that I didn’t love. Other favorite authors include Thomas McGuane, Harry Middleton, Jim Harrison, Russell Chatham and Ernest Schwiebert. I’ve even been re-reading my first book, Spring Creeks that was published 17 years ago. If you don’t have my Fly Fishing the Henry’s Fork book now would be a good time to order one.


I sometimes become melancholy for the old days before we had credit cards, cable news and smart phones. It’s great to stay informed but I fear we sometimes get overwhelmed with information. One of my favorite quotes from Robert Traver is “because mercifully there are no telephones on trout waters.” Wouldn’t that be the day? Yet through modern media we can experience fly fishing throughout the world. When I can’t fish I truly enjoy watching fly fishing on YouTube. There are also lots of great videos. While now out of production, we still have some Henry’s Fork DVDs available online. To be honest, it is a lot better to be shut in today than 40 or 50 years ago. We can still find solitude without loneliness even if we can’t go outside.

For those who can get on the water we encourage you to do it whenever you can. We have great fishing here right now. In fact, the next 3 - 5 weeks could provide some of the best fishing of the entire season. If you come here we assure you that we are taking all of the precautions to follow the guidelines and requirements to stay safe. Todd Lanning has a new fishing report so you will know what to expect. We will keep you updated not only on our fishing but also any changes with regard to procedures here.


If you don’t live close and can’t fish here, we hope you can get time on your home waters. Fishing is one of the best ways you can practice social distancing. Hopefully things won’t get so bad that you can’t fish. The final line from why he fishes is, “and, finally, not because I regard fishing as being so terribly important but because I suspect that so many of the other concerns of men are equally unimportant – and not nearly so much fun.”

We’ll get through this!