Zen and the Art of Fly Fishing
Words :: Bobby Koven
I faithfully practice mindfulness and I’m also a fly fisher(person). Do
these passions have a common element?
Spring in our four-season playground brings the return of multiple
quiet outdoor activities that can turn hours into minutes: hiking,
biking, kayaking, canoeing—and fly fishing. With the seasonal melt,
our world-class rivers are primed again for trout fishing. The Mad,
Pretty, Nottawasaga, Beaver, Bighead and Sydenham flow east into
Georgian Bay while the Saugeen, Rocky Saugeen, Maitland, and
Grand flow west into Lake Huron.
Trout season—brown, speckled, rainbow and brook—opens the last
Saturday in April. Whether you’re fishing the headwaters, your
secret spot or the river mouths, the first trout of the year is always
memorable. As a fly fisher(person), the size of the catch does not
matter; big or small, they all count.
As the water is colder and faster at this time of year, I use a nine-
foot rod (8-weight) and tie my own flies with bead heads, a lot of
purple marabou and maybe some split shot. I recommend fishing
the prime water (feeding lanes), getting your flies deep and keeping
a tight line to set the hook.
Wooly Buggers (hook size 12-14) are my spring go-to fly. If you’re
fishing early in the season, most[remove biting] flies are at their
nymph stage. But wearing a hat will help protect you from other
bugs, the sun and that odd stray fly that might strike you in the head
(whether it’s windy or you’re out of practice). Adding a pair of
polarized sunglasses will allow you to actually see the trout.
Good waders and boots are a necessity and of course that cigar (or
two) to keep the bugs away (cigar smokers will use any excuse). I
don’t wear a watch, but use the cigars and sun as nature’s
And of course you’ll need a fishing license, unless you’re 65 or
older. At this time of year, the fish are hungry due to a long winter of
really doing nothing, but they call it fishing, not catching, so enjoy
As with mindfulness, hours turn into minutes and typically I fish
alone, enjoying my Zen time.
Flyfishing Bob is a local fly fisher, guide and environmentalist. He
teaches fly casting and promotes catch-and-release to keep our
rivers and fish vibrant.