With all the multi-verse-focused movies out there, with all the alternate timelines storytelling that dominate today’s entertainment, I felt compelled to offer a thought. Aren’t fishing rods time machines? Stick with me on this.
When you hit a familiar, favorite fishing hole that you have fished most of your life, especially if you get to do that with a friend you’ve known for years and years, don’t you see and feel every moment you’ve ever experienced in that place, simultaneously? Aren’t you casting to the very spots you know they’ve hit before, with each strike replaying in your mind – as your cast approaches its landing zone? Aware of what can happen, are you not able to see your fishing future – as you move from spot to spot?
I recently got to experience these very things at a small pond with the guy that’s been my best friend since we were 5 years old. Jay and I spent countless hours fishing this place when we were growing up and, as adults, we inevitably find our way back to it just about every time we get to see each other again – which is maybe once a year, twice if we’re lucky. As life started digging in its roots, our worlds settled into grounds about 1,000 miles apart. That’s a long way from when we thought we’d end up – sharing a place somewhere, doing a landscaping business together, and fishing any day of the week we wanted to. Life rarely plays out the way our 12 year old minds think it will. But one thing that brings us right back to the same idealistic joy, freedom of focus and youthful playfulness is fishing together.
Let me set the scene… It’s late afternoon, the middle of the week. Jay’s workday is done. I’m already at the pond texting him to come on over and be prepared to catch some fish. He’s tired. Being a mason who works with heavy stones and cement blocks all day takes its toll on the body. So he hesitates, until I send the picture of my first catch – a respectable 2 lb Bass. He’s now on his way.
Before I get into anything else, I should tell you something about me and my friends’ relationship. It can get pretty competitive at times. Something I should tell you about me and my friends’ competitiveness, there’s a lot of jawing back and forth along the way. Over the years, our circle of friends has turned trash talking into an art form. But it’s always for sport and never taken personally. By the end of each trip, we find a category that we can each win. For instance, I usually caught more fish, but Jay caught the biggest fish of the day. Or he gets the highest weight total, but I get the most species variety. Bottom line, we just have fun.
OK, the stage is set. We are at one of our favorite honey holes, one that is frozen in time. I have officially challenged Jay to a friendly little tournament. One loop around the 5-acre pond. Challenge accepted. (When I say accepted, I mean he arrived. It wasn’t really a choice at all.) It’s on!
Using my favorite time machine, remember the time machine thing? We’re back to that now. I start targeting all the exact spots where I have pulled out fish over the past 40 years, where we had the exact conditions of the current day. My trusty time machine is working like a charm. Before Jay can catch his first fish, I’m already at 11 Bass. The chatter is well underway. Every time I hear a groan… “Ugh!” I have to quickly dart my eyes down the bank to see if he’s just lost another fish, so that I can properly taunt him. Soon, I realize that he’s making the same noise whether he misses a fish or if he’s tweaked his bad shoulder on a cast. Unable to tell the difference between the two utterances, I yell out a snarky suggestion, “Maybe, every time you miss a fish just yell out ‘Owe-eee’ (delivered in my whiniest voice), so that way I know the difference.” He suggested I move swiftly to a rather warm, fiery, location far below our current elevation.
As we went around the pond that evening, we were sending updates and pictures to an old neighborhood friend through a FB thread. Everybody fell right into character as we collectively had a blast trash talking and celebrating all at the same time! For that couple of hours, it might as well have been our entire lives. Because each cast was mirrored on top of thousands that came before it and landed on future days we hope to see. We truly tapped into a timeless zone through fishing, friendship, and temporary freedom from the stresses of our daily lives. So, I end where I began, as I often do… You don’t need to go to the movies to tap into a multi-verse of memories and possibilities, or to find a few hours of isolated escapism. Just grab a fishing pole and call an old friend. It’s the best time machine your money can buy and right up there as one of the best ways to spend a few hours in the here and now.
Matt Mittan is the Owner of Serenity Canoe Guide Service and Co-Host of “Matt & Michele Outdoors”, an outdoors-themed show heard on Biz Radio Asheville. Contact him via email at MattMittanOutdoors@gmail.com