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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Addiction

There are many forms of addiction out there in today’s society. People are addicted to drugs, alcohol, social media, television, and all sorts of other things. To me being addicted to something means that you have to have it to live.  Furthermore, if you don’t have the item or a certain state of mind, the addiction alters your mood and temperament. My wife can attest that I am hopelessly addicted to tying flies and fly fishing almost to the point that it is an obsession. My mind gets so set on doing either activity that I forget or subconsciously ignore tasks that I was asked to do. I literally can not think of anything else, until I have my fly fishing/tying fix.


At times my addiction to fly tying will be so bad that I find myself tying on my lunch breaks at work. I’ve even jetted to a nearby stream on my lunch break just to get ten to fifteen minutes of fly fishing in, if I know that I won’t be able to go later that night. Since my wife is a teacher, I find myself trying to fish nearly every day before work in the summer. She is home so for three months out of the year I am off the hook for getting three kids ready in the mornings before work. Even this morning, after tying flies until one in the morning, I woke up early to get about an hour on one of my favorite Brookie streams, coincidentally I forgot the chores that my wife had asked me to do. I don’t mean to forget these things, it’s just my mind is so focused that it wants to go fishing or tying, that it blocks out other things that may prevent it from happening. Borderline “Rain Man” if you will. So I’m running on roughly four to five hours of sleep a night through out he summer. Crazy right? Can you relate to this state of mind, and dependence on the mind altering drug that is fly fishing?

 
I’ve found myself fishing in the dead of winter with real feel temperatures of negative 2, with air temperatures in the single digits. My line freezes with  every back cast.  I am tearing my fly line apart as it slides through icy guides. I will be shivering along the side of  the stream just watching my sighter or indicator for the slightest movement suggesting a subtle take. After landing a trout it may take taking ten to fifteen minutes to warm my hands back up from the numbing water.
 

The addiction can be so bad that sometimes I will find myself disregarding my own safety. I’ve fished in areas with decent populations of timber rattle snakes and copperheads. In essence, I am  putting my life on the line to get that fix in. Those quick winter fishing trips are also quite dangerous with the threat of hypothermia should I fall in and be too far from my vehicle. Walking down steep banks, walking tightrope like log-jams to cross a stream, and all sorts of wild maneuvers to find fish, are all commonplace. Its almost as if injuring myself is not even a risk that needs to be considered. Now after I get my fishing in, I will say my mind calms itself and allows me to make rational decisions that focus on safety. Is any of this sounding familiar to you?

 
So why do it? Why subject ourselves to these conditions and safety hazards? Why tie flies on our lunch breaks instead of eating? Why risk hypothermia in the peak of winter? Why do we subject ourselves to little to no sleep everyday? What is there to gain from catching trout in these difficult, and offer dangerous conditions? 

 
Addicts of all sorts often ask themselves the same type of questions. They often tell themselves this is the last time, or maybe I’ll slow down after this week. The cold hard truth is that they can’t. I can’t for that matter anyway. People think you are nuts. Coworkers and friends question your sanity. It can come to the point of being down right unhealthy. You can become obsessed with perfecting a fly pattern so much that you will negate sleep until you have it exactly how you want it, and you can repeat the same result over and over.
 
 
So for me answering the questions I presented above is not easy. I’ve asked myself the same questions many times. Is it really worth it? For me the answer is yes. With my hectic and crazy life, these little one hour trips are necessary. They help me totally clear my mind of all of the stresses in my life. To me fly fishing in snake infested areas is a no brainer. In my mind, if we look at the stats, I have a better chance of getting hit by a car walking back from the stream, than I do getting tagged by a rattle snake. I’ll roll the dice and take that risk every time. Referring back to a statement I made at the beginning, I physically need this time. My mind and body are dependent on getting out in nature, and relieving stress. I can tell you that on days that I get to hit the stream, even if it’s for twenty minutes before it gets dark after I put my kids to bed, my mood instantly changes. I feel like I can breath and have a euphoric state of mine. At the same time if plans change and I had it in my head that I was to go fishing but I don’t get to go, I turn into a miserable crabby jerk. I’ve tried many times to lighten up, or grow up” as my wife would say, but my mind isn't wired for it, and I just can’t seem to help it.

 
In closing this article I feel that it’s a combination of things that makes one addicted to fly fishing and tying. I feel that it is the chemicals that your brain releases when you catch a fish that start the addiction. As you get better at fly fishing you will catch more fish. In essence you will need higher and higher “dosage” to get your fix as you grow as a tyer and fisherman.  I have to wonder how I will be once I am retired. Also the satisfaction of landing a fish on or seeing others land fish on flies you have created releases endorphins and furthers the addiction. Finally nailing a pattern you've been working on has the same effect. Some fly anglers and tyers have no issues with the addiction. They can handle a hit here, and a hit there.  Unfortunately for me, and maybe some of you reading this, I do not fall into that category.
 
 
I wish I could continue on with one more paragraph for this writing and give you ways to stop this addiction, but you can’t. You just can't. There is no cure for those of us who are hopelessly addicted. I’ve tried so hard many times, many ways, and I simply just can’t kick "The Addiction".

11 comments:

  1. This is my favorite post yet.It is so true I even spend money on tying supplies that should be spent on my remodeling projects around my house.The more fish I catch the worse the addiction gets.Another awesome read great job Mike


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