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Fishing In My Mind

I have a confession to make. As I sit here typing this, I haven't been fishing in six months. As someone who claims to be an avid fisherman, this presents somewhat of a problem. Can one be considered an avid fisherman if one hasn't fished in half a year? I know the answer is yes, but it still stings to think about not having been out on the water for that long. This period is, I suppose, a natural downtime in my fishing because, well, it's winter in Minnesota - and I'm not an ice fisherman. That being said our local spring-fed trout streams stay ice free all year and there are are sections open to trout fishing year round here in the Driftless. The majority are only closed for a short period in November and December. No excuses, right?

But you see, as I'm sure you can relate, I'm not just a fisherman. I'm a husband, too, and as I write this I am chilling by the fire in a cabin with my beautiful wife on our 12th wedding anniversary. I'm also a parent - at home, we have three little boys who, although they do enjoy fishing, require and deserve lots of time and attention related to other matters. And I'm a teacher. Helping third graders to understand everything from multiplication, to adjectives, and the phases of the moon takes a lot of time and energy. This is compounded by the fact that basketball season falls in this time frame, too, and I coach the junior high boys - 26 games and countless practices over three months. There are also bills to pay, chores to be done, errands to run. So there you have it - a list of excuses a mile long. All valid reasons for not fishing. I still should really have made the effort to squeeze in an outing or two. Especially since there are literally trout streams within 10 minutes of my house in all directions...

But all is not so dreary as it seems, for I go fishing in my mind everyday. There are constant sights, sounds, and smells that trigger these mental forays. Some are incidental: crossing bridges on the way to and from work, the sound of water rushing over the dam as I enter the school in the morning, water dripping in the bathroom sink, the smell of wet grass. Others are overt: a walk along the stream, an alternate route to a destination that takes me past a favorite spot, tying up a half-dozen flies, building lures with my boys, reading a book, magazine, or blog. I try to do one of these things every day, whether it lasts a couple minutes or a few hours. It keeps me connected to my passion when everything else is rightfully a higher priority. It reminds me that there are days ahead with fairer weather, less to do, and more opportunities to fish. Better days, indeed.

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