Rejuvenation: “in it”

By Jim Dickens, a happy fisherman

Yosemite where John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt met!

John Muir, the famous naturalist who conceived of the national park system with Teddy Roosevelt, once said, “Most people live on the world, not in it.”  I am “most people” most of the time.  I live in a climate controlled house and travel in the self contained bubbles of cars and planes.  Although, the Ridgeline is a pretty sweet bubble.  I eat and drink things without seeing the animals, plants and lake from which they originate.  I walk on sidewalks and well defined paths past landscaped scenes except when I hit my drive too far sideways.  However, fishing is different and it puts you “in” the world.

When you fly fish, the more you sense your surroundings the better you fish.  The act of fishing takes concentration and focus so that outside thought recedes.  You need to notice  air temperature, the wind, the light and the shadows.  You must understand the flow, the depth, the water temperature and the underwater structures of the river.  You need to see the bugs on the water, the bugs under the rocks, the underwater fish movement and the splash of the fish on the surface.  You should notice if an osprey or heron or beaver is disrupting the scene.  Then you need to enter the scene and not disrupt it yourself with movement, with sound, with your shadow and profile.  Finally, you need to actually fish and persuade your quarry that all is well and that fake fly really is worth eating.  To fish well,  the current cliches about being in a flow state or being present are relevant.  I would argue that you don’t leave the world behind you enter it.

I fished 12 days in Wisconsin, 2 in Pennsylvania, 6 in Colorado, 2 in Utah, 9 in Idaho, 3 in Illinois, 7 in Montana and 3 in Wyoming for a total of 44.  The rivers and streams were:

WisconsinPennaColoradoUtahIdahoMontanaWyomingIllinois
BlueDelawareGunnisonGreenLochsaBitter RootDuckDupage
Big Green
Taylor Fork
SelwayBig HoleGibbon
Castle Rock
East Fork
Big LostMadisonFirehole
Otter
Spring Run
3 SistersGallatinMadison
Little Grant






I fished with over 50 different new and old friends in blistering 100 degree heat and snowy 25 degree windswept bone cold. It was fantastic.

On my last day, I fished a river in the afternoon that has really grown on me, the Gallatin. They filmed “A River Runs Through It” there. Stopping at 5 spots in 4 hours and finding 10 fish using four different fishing techniques was probably the best fishing done in 2020.  At 6:37 PM, 10/4, a strong 15 inch rainbow took a size 14 gray drake dry fly, the last catch.

In the month of September, no TV was watched and most days were without cell coverage.  I spent 4 days in a tent and 17 in a cabin.  On October 5th, I left the world and reentered my bubble to find highly anxious friends and family suffering from from pandemic and politics.  How fortunate to have had a complete rejuvenation in September.  The formula of going to beautiful places to fly fish is no secret.  It allows you to be “in it” and outside the manmade bubble.

I left my truck in storage in Bozeman and will pick it up in December.  There’s a reason I didn’t drive it back but that is another story.

Oh yeah, I forgot I fished two days on the remote cascadian Stahekin in Washington as well. So 46 days of fishing I guess.

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