For the love of the cast


I was talking with a friend on Monday, technically a work call, but we spent more time talking about fishing than work. He shared his weekend fishing update, which had me glancing at my afternoon schedule. I saw an open space of about 50 minutes between my last Zoom meeting and opening the shelter. 

“I’m going this afternoon,” I announced, immediately calculating where to go and how much actual fishing time I’ve had.

At 4:05 pm, I raced out the door, grabbed a freshwater rod, two lures, my pliers, and jumped into my Jeep. I was smiling. Brightest smile of the day.

When I arrived at the pond, I looked out over the water and breathed deeply. Life was good!

My first cast was like a drink of cool water on a 90° day. A flock of ducks took off, fluttering their feathers and the still surface. Three swans floated beyond my casting range, but well within my appreciate range. Their beauty and grace enhanced the perfection of the moment. 

I fell into the unconscious rhythm of cast, retrieve, hope, cast, retrieve, hope, and repeat until … fish or full. Heart full, that is.

I’ve often said that fishermen are the most hopeful people I know. We cast 100, 200, 500, maybe 1,000 times before we land a keeper, or even any fish at all. We cast in hope that we’ll catch something. 

We cast when the first 100 casts came back without a hit. We cast because every single time we cast, there is possibility. Possibility is reason enough to cast. Possibility is reason to hope.

We cast when life is happy and carefree, and we cast when life is hard, with heavy burdens. I’ve seen fishermen come to the shore concerned with the worries of the day, and I’ve watched those worries dissipate as if each cast tossed incremental pieces of concern into the air to dissolve on a breeze. 

I’ve had the pleasure of leading school groups, church youth groups, and karate classes. Somehow, all things can be related to fishing, and I always “ask” the kids, “When do we go fishing?” And they have learned, “We go fishing on good days. We go fishing on bad days. We go fishing when we’re happy. We go fishing when we’re sad.” I’m fairly certain, if they follow that motto, they’ll all grow up to be well-balanced, happy people. 

One of my favorite scripture verses is 1 Peter 5:7, “Cast your cares upon the Lord, for He cares for you.”

On Monday, I did just that. My initial casts were with intentional thoughts, casting those concerns as I cast the lure. Within a few minutes, the easy retrieve, sans fish, put me into a meditative state. The weather had turned cloudy, so I wasn’t expecting a sunset bite, but boy oh boy, after 15 minutes, I was smiling at the swans, thanking the tall grasses for their gentle company, and once again optimistic that there will be a permanent shelter on-Island for those in need. 

The swans moved closer, unperturbed with my presence. They appeared to be moving effortlessly, and I thought of Abe Pieciak. Abe, as well as being an incredibly talented artist, is a superb fly-fisherman. I have stood on a jetty near Abe and watched in awe as he casts his fly rod in seemingly effortless movement. Honestly, it is poetry in motion. I might have been jealous, but more than that, I became inspired. I wanted to move a line over my head, back and forth, floating with power, and then release the length of it as a gift to the sea, just as Abe was doing. 

After a year or two of watching Abe and other fly-fishermen, I started to practice the cast. It’s so different from a spin road. The lift of the line, the movement from 10 o’clock to 2 o’clock and back again. The release, much shorter than a spin road, still puzzles me. I haven’t found the rhythm. I want to punch the last bit, push the fly farther out, with force, as one does a lure. But that is not the way of fly-fishing. When the warmer weather returns, I will spend hours practicing the cast, simply for the love of the cast. 

I have watched “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” more times than I can count. I have no interest in Brad Pitt, but the fly-fishing scenes in “A River Runs Through It” holds me spellbound as I shift between watching the lines in appreciation and watching to study the body movement and the movement of the line. 

I was thrilled when the M.V. Film Center showed “Mending the Line” as a fundraiser for our Island veterans. I was so happy, I watched the movie the day before the event at home, and then went to the fundraiser to watch it on the big screen. 

For now, I’m grateful to pick up my spin rod and cast to my heart’s content, or perhaps I should say, until my heart is content. There is beauty in the spin too. The snap and whoosh of the line when it’s a strong cast. Following the lure over the water as it goes farther and farther still, landing with a splash and a bounce, and then the retrieve begins, and hope glides through the water with every inch.

When my alarm went off, reminding me it was time to head to the shelter, I reeled in joy and walked to the Jeep, lighter than I walked to the shore. I didn’t catch a fish. Didn’t have a hit or a tug. Didn’t so much as see a fish. Still, all was right with my world. I’d cast, simply and purely, for the love of the cast. 

I hope to see you on the beach, casting to your heart’s content.