Growing Old in the Sport
When I was in high school, my grandparents on my dadís side brought my brother and me along on a summer trip to a tourist ranch in the Trinity Alps. My grandfather was an ardent fly fisher, and it was he who gave me my first fly rod and reel, which accompanied me there.
I had no skill with a fly rod at that time, but I managed to hook a sizeable trout on Coffee Creek, an experience that remains vivid in my mind. What I also remember, though, is the vial of pills my grandfather brought along with him and my grandmotherís concerns about the effect of altitude on blood pressure and about him fishing alone in the woods at his age.
These are concerns that are starting to face me, as well, and possibly face you, too. (If not now, they will in a decade or three.) Although I like to think of myself as active and robust, I become winded more easily these days, and I find myself less steady on my feet than I was in my twenties through forties. This isnít necessarily a bad thing. Although Iím moving more slowly and more carefully, Iím also more patient and more attentive to where I am and to what surrounds me.
Given the joy this sport brings me, given the insights it is sure to continue providing, I hope to keep fly fishing as long as physically possible. Iíve been watching those older than me for ways to adapt. One of my neighbors, who fishes more days of the year than anyone I know, has become a gym rat to maintain muscle tone and stamina. Other friends no longer fish alone (this will be a tough habit for me to break), and some are visiting pay-to-play venues that provide a comfortable setting.
Iím particularly impressed by the tack taken by Trent Pridemore, who writes for this magazine. He has shifted most of his attention to still waters, which is a remarkably viable way to keep fishing, given the impressive number of ponds and lakes in our state and their widespread distribution. Consider, too, that access to a boat, if one decides to make that investment, also opens up such waters as the Delta and foothill rivers below dams, plus, for the adventurous, bays and the sea.
Actually, as I type these words, Iím finding myself intrigued and even excited by the angling possibilities that aging will lead me into. In a decade or two, I will no longer be hopping rocks along a creek at ten thousand feet, but I will certainly still be flinging a fly, seeking the grab.
And I hope to see you out there.
Publisher and Editor