Fly Fishing and the Wisdom of Water

Today I was fly fishing on the Los Pinos River in Colorado. Two days ago I caught nine rainbow trout. Today, I caught none.

fly fishing

There was a moment in which I was overcome with beauty of God’s creation. I looked at the mountains. It was drizzling but the sun was out. I watched my fly line curling over my head back and forth. I prayed, “Thank you God for all this.” As I prepared to lay down my fly on the water, I snagged it on a bush behind me. My deep spiritual moment ended with an abrupt reminder that I’m not yet in true paradise.

Fly Fishing as Water Wisdom

Fly fishing changes a man. I don’t understand it. I was sitting next to a young man on the airplane the other day who was coming home from a fly fishing trip. He was a Catholic convert. We began to talk about how fishing seems to evoke something in us.

I think I may now why. Fish are in another level of nature. Fish are underwater. When we engage in fly fishing we are trying to capture something below by copying nature. The fish are down there and we don’t understand that world.

Heaven and Earth

It’s no accident that Christ chose fishermen. The connection between the realm of the fishes and the realm of humans is an analogy of separation between earth and heaven. Christ comes down into our world. We open our mouths to eat Him. God pulls us upward.

Question: Have you had similar experiences while fly fishing? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • Desmond

    When you are in Colorado [where I reside] or Wyoming or Montana, you are as close to God’s country as you can find on earth.

  • Can’t say I’ve had the fly fishing experience, but I can definitely appreciate your sharing this beautiful insight. When God opens our eyes to His beauty it’s hard to put it into words, but you’ve done a great job. Thank Taylor!

  • Bruce

    It has been a long time since I went fishing but this stirred the mind today. Your last section “Heaven and Earth” Really hit home.

  • Sitfittel

    What a beautiful analogy, Taylor.

  • Deana Progar

    Dr. Taylor,
    Don’t know how to fly fish, but I know how to ski…and you get the same tranquil experience.
    When you are fishing, you are looking up at the mountain with it’s power hovering over you, while at the same time you are in the calmness of the water.
    When you are skiing, you are looking down the mountain, and it’s surroundings, feeling the power under your feet, while at the same time the snow flakes falls gently on you.
    Very peaceful, very serene, very meditative. It puts you on a tranquilizing state of mind where it is quiet for a change, and then God can touch your mind and soul at that very instant, and the soul can feel the overwhelming powerful presence of God and His peaceful and gentle grace as well.
    It is a rare opportunity for God to touch you, because we live in an extremely noisy planet.
    Deana Progar

  • Barb Healey

    What an absolutely simple and beautiful analogy!! Thank you.

  • Martin McDermott, sj

    Reading your article I felt a tug like a hook being set. Flies I used to tie and cast but left them all 62 years ago when joining the New England Jesuits who weren’t into that. In heaven I’ll receive back some thrill of its beauty. As the bishop would say with the candidate for tonsure: Dominus pars hereditatis meae et calicis meae; tu es qui restitues hereditatem meam mihi.
    Your blog is a favorite of mine

    • I always thought of the old school Jesuits as the preeminent outdoorsmen.
      We should go fishing sometime. Where are you located?

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  • KTB

    “not in paradise yet” … I don’t know about fly fishing but can relate to that snagging moment. I was in Monte Sant Angelo, Italy, walking from the hotel on the cliff overlooking the Adriatic Sea and Manfredonia at 8 am, eagerly looking forward to walking down the long stone staircase inside the cave of St Michael and into the safety of the stone-carved chapel and praying there. At the top of the staircase and gateway, a small disheveled man started heckling me in Italian, which I couldn’t understand. He followed me down the stairs a little way; I stopped (with nobody else in sight). He stood and glowered at me. I kept walking down quite a way, then noticed the clunking of his footsteps behind me. There was nobody else around at all. I stopped to write the Latin inscription on the stone gateway at the chapel into a notebook and the man walked down the steps right behind me. I noticed some people inside the glass doors of the chapel and quickly entered it. A Mass was being said and I stood near the priests and nuns selling books. The little man was still outside opening all the doors and walking down the stone corridors towards the museum, looking for me.

    I travelled all the way from Australia, a 24 hour flight, expecting to receive some spiritual consolation in the safe cave of St Michael, and that little man spoiled the moment completely. Although, it was a spiritual lesson: we are never safe until in the arms of Our Lord. 🙂

  • Mark

    just saw your blog for the first time Taylor and I definitely have felt that, many times. I have flyfished for trout for many years but now live in the tropics where there are no trout (Cairns, Australia) and have ‘converted’ to saltwater flyfishing although trout will always be my first love. The other day I was wading the sandflats and there were turtles everywhere! I also had 2 small sharks swim about 3m from where I was standing, it was totally awesome and felt the presence of God in His creation. I am currently studying to be a Deacon and have been thinking that perhaps there may be a flyfishing component to whatever ministry I do, eg taking groups of youth fishing/camping (I’m still discerning my ministry). I’m about to purchase a flytying kit and will start tying flies again, something I used to do many years ago. Its very satisfying to catch a fish on a fly you tied yourself.