Give and take

In the simplest terms, you present the fly and the fish takes it. Drill down however, and things are not quite so easily defined.

The fish gets hooked, and subsequently gives up significant amounts of energy trying to break free. Sometimes it does, taking a tiny piece of your spirit along with.

Other times you land the fish, and take in its beauty. Then you release it, at once giving the fish back its life and giving the ecosystem surrounding it a chance at a better one. Meanwhile, the fish and that ecosystem have given you something too. A racing heart. A sense of accomplishment. A moment of bliss.

Even if the fish finds a way to escape, it has still provided you with something. A lesson learned.

From the long-term perspective, everyone has their days…what seem like eternally memorable outings. Sometimes it is entire seasons. Even years. Nonetheless, we constantly yearn for more.

Are you taking away, or giving your all? Wantonly? Relentlessly? Generously? Unexpectedly?

I do not have the answers myself. We’d all like to think that when we’re standing on the bank we’re at one with our surroundings, but we might be fooling ourselves. How do you measure such symbiosis, when for each success there’s a failure waiting right around the next corner? And visa versa. The magic, consistently balancing the opposing forces, seems almost out of reach when you consider the next tick of the clock. How will you know if you achieved that harmony until you see the final weigh-in?

My guess is all you can do is hope. And keep fiddling with the scale.

MG signing off (to take a careful look around)

Editor’s note: There is one certainty: if you make that cast and a tree branch takes that fly, you are taking a trip to the fly shop, and giving someone your cash.


FlySwinger says:

A recent experience might shed good light on the points you make. This past week, I found that the Ennis Fish Hatchery, one of the most prolific trout hatcheries in the world, had a temporary opening for a fisheries laborer. I called the morning after finding the ad to inquire on the position. I was quickly informed me that the position had been filled. Still inspired to still offer my services and try to do some good, I asked if the hatchery took on volunteers. All three of those positions were also filled into the foreseeable future. There are so many volunteers and college students willing to donate full forty-hour weeks to give back and further their knowledge of fish biology, the man couldn’t begin to tell me when their might be an opening.

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by shawn bichsel, Leone. Leone said: Give and take | Michael Gracie: Then you release it, at once giving the fish back its life and giving the ecosyste… […]


“…taking…giving…” “…consistently balancing the opposing forces…” “…harmony…”

You’ve got some yin-yang going on with this post. I hope, in some small measure, I give back what I get out, not only fishing, but other aspects of life as well. Thanks for the read!


@FlySwinger – I think it’s the same way in a lot of channels, volunteer wise. A good thing.

@Scott – I hope the ying-yang push-pull thing didn’t confuse anyone. I hope the ying-yang push-pull thing confuses everyone.

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