I often ask God why he made me a fisherman.
And of all the kinds of fishermen he could have made me to be, why a trout fisherman particularly?
And of all the trout fishers, why a fly-fisher?
Why did he design me with a desire to seek out places where trout live, to coerce them into revealing themselves, to pluck them from their environments, to hold them and admire their intricate design?
Why did he make me to enjoy woods and waters? To walk among ancient giants with their shed skin underfoot? To look deeply into streams and to analyze subtleties that might disclose the hiding place of some piscine prize?
I ask these questions because—make no mistake—these are not just things I do. They comprise who I am.
I think about these things, and I wonder.
Of all the things the Creator could have made me to be, of all the interests and passions he could have given me, of all the things to captivate my imagination and stir my motivations, why this one?
Of course, the question itself begs the questions behind it and beneath it.
What is it that makes one an angler to begin with? Not just someone who goes fishing, but someone whose very identity is wrapped up in the act?
Romantics at the core
I suspect, on some level, all of us who consider ourselves “outdoors-people” — whether we fish or hunt or birdwatch or gather mushrooms or hike or photograph — are romantics at the core.
We experience something transcendent in those environs, something we idealize in our hearts and minds, something that illumines a spark of the divinity within us.
In our pursuits within that ethereal realm we refer to as “nature,” we are drawn into something both beyond and intimately constituent of our very self. We are creatively connected to the very thing of which we are made.
We are the stuff of the earth…and so everything in and of it is in and of us.
For some of us, the thing that feels most in and of us is that which flows freely over the surface of it all. And those things which live freely within that mellifluous substance implore us to identify with them in some mysterious cosmic interaction that extracts us from our world into theirs, even as we extract them from theirs into ours…if only for a moment or two.
And there is something in that enigmatic transaction that curiously unites us to everything there is, everything that has ever been, and everything that will ever be.
In an instant, we are eternal.
Prose and Poetry
If trout fishing is the prose of the outdoor romanticist, fly fishing must certainly be the poetry.
And so the angler writes the stories of the world outside, and the fly-fisher gives the stories rhythm and pace and cadence, like tumbling streams give voices to mountains.
This is what I am made to be.
And maybe why isn’t the right question.