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  • Writer's pictureDave Griffith

Lessons from the Beaverkill

I have been a fly fisherman for most of my life. I learned to fish in Maine on the rivers that flow north from Moosehead Lake, including the Allagash and the associated lakes and feeder streams. My first instructor was a traditionalist who tied his own flies in the field at night based on the hatches occurring. I learned to fish both dry and nymphs, the different rods and line combinations, casting strategy, and most importantly, how to read a stream and think like a fish.

Years passed, including school, employment, marriage, kids, moves, grandkids, and a few retirements. Opportunities to get on the stream took a back seat to other priorities. Then, a good friend asked me to join him for a weekend at his club in Beaverkill.

There, on a cold May morning, with the sun pushing the morning fog, I remembered what had stirred my love of fishing in the first place that only with age could I now appreciate. My friend Pierce commented about hatches, pools, and knots, then imparted some great advice: “Dave, the most important part of fishing is remembering that fishing is not about the fish.”

Fishing done well requires you to focus and use your rod, line, tippet, and fly as an extension of your cast. You stand waist-deep in a stream, watching your steps and being entirely in the moment. You are alone in the outdoors, stream, sky, woods, and weather, and you are at peace with the work at hand.

I have found that such time spent on the river restores the soul. Fish caught and released or not, it matters not. We need to find the time to restore, think, reflect, and just be quiet. It does not have to be fishing; for me, it is, but we need our restoration time. The camp is off the grid, with no phone, wireless, or TV. The stream and other like-minded individuals are happy to share a meal, have a conversation, and appreciate the moment. I have learned that the brain still works on the stream, just in the background. Often, on the ride home, a complicated problem solution will emerge. The issue needs step away time to solve.

To be clear, catching and releasing adds to the experience. I joined the club, and it is one of my favorite places—places we all need.

Where is your place? And that is the lesson of the Beaverkill.

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