Published Apr 28. 2018 - 5 months ago
Updated or edited Jun 25. 2018

Not a single cast

I just returned from a week-long fishing trip with my wife and a bunch of good friends – and I didn’t make a single cast.

The wheelchair
Brewing tea
Getting out
Martin Joergensen

Almost as long as I have been fly-fishing seriously, I have been on two week-long fishing trips every year. These trips have been arranged together with a group of good friends, and have been to destinations within Denmark, and have had coastal fishing as their main purpose.

The group has changed slightly over the years and the location fished has changed. We have basically been to most good coastal spots in Denmark, and have “shopped around” in order to try new spots ever so often.
We have returned to certain places many times: the islands Bornholm, Als and Langeland. We have been to Jutland, Funen and Zealand. We have fished open and exposed coasts as well as more sheltered fjords and sounds.
We typically go once in the spring – March, April, even May – and once in the autumn, typically in September or October.
I just returned from the latest trip today, late April 2018. We spent a week on the southern Danish island Møn, located in the Baltic and known for its white cliffs, green beech forests – and big sea trout.

Storm coming
Swamp
Beech forest
Beautiful island
Martin Joergensen

The fishing was good, and above average for these trips, which have varied quite a bit in “quality” fishing wise. Some of the trips have been almost ruined by the weather. We can fish the coast in almost all kinds of weather: frost, cold weather, warmth, rain, wind. But a couple of things can ruin fishing quite effectively: ice on the water and hefty onshore wind.
The ice is mostly impossible to beat, but the wind can normally be fled by moving to a coast facing the other way. Still, a good ole nor’easter can ruin any otherwise good week here in Denmark.
The past week was also influenced by the weather. We had some pretty windy days and both rain and hale during the week, but being on an island enabled us to move out of the wind to find fishable water.
Now, I write “enabled us to move”, and sure enough I did move away from the wind, but not in order to fish.
Because I didn’t fish once this whole week!
Not a single cast!

A fly
I tied a few flies
Martin Joergensen

I didn’t rig a rod, didn’t put on waders, didn’t inflate my pontoon boat.
In spite of the good fishing and days with excellent conditions, I simply didn’t feel like it.
As many of the readers here know, I can’t just go fishing as I please due to having MS. I’m unable to walk properly, I can’t wade, I can’t keep my balance and I don’t have the energy to be active for an extended period.
I used to be able to fish many days in a row, many hours every day. I loved walking long stretches and I loved wading on rocks and fishing in turbulent water.

Nowadays I need to sit down to fish. In a boat, in a kayak, in a pontoon boat. And in order to do that I need to prepare the vessel: assemble, inflate, rig, drag to the water.
I can’t do that myself anymore, and need help to get in the water. Once there I can actually fish quite a long time. It’s not always as satisfying and comfortable as wading, but it’s fishing.

...it’s not the same as it used to be.

Packed... not!
Inflating in vain
Packed and ready... not!
Martin Joergensen

The thing is that as much as I love casting and fishing and being out, it’s not the same as it used to be. The preparation is exhausting, and being dependent on help isn’t the greatest thing – even though both my darling wife and my fishing friends are more than helpful and willing to help.

When I fish, I don’t catch nearly as much as I used to. I actually haven’t caught a coastal trout in the last three years, and I used to catch quite a lot of fish.
Exhaustion, lack of success, tough conditions. None of these things motivate me.

The cliffs
The cliffs
Martin Joergensen

On this particular trip another factor influenced my urge to fish: the lack of routine.

I used to have my gear all packed and ready, and could go from work mode to fish mode in minutes, and be in the car, ready and packed, within a very short time.
That’s very different now. I fish so rarely that my gear is spread all over the place. I’m not all sure that the reels contain the right lines, have leaders mounted, will fit the rods that I want to bring. I have to dig around to find my waders and my jacket, and the boots are usually a third place. And then I haven’t even started packing the boat or kayak yet.
So of course I mess up and forget things.

On this particular trip I not only forgot the bag with reels and flies, but also the oars for the pontoon boat. Rods but no reel, boat but no oars… that equalled no fishing.
I managed to pick up the gear during the week, but I never manned myself up to getting it prepared and actually get out.
I simply didn’t want to.
I wanted to fish, but I wanted to fish the way I used to: simply find a spot that looked good, pull on the waders, grab the rod and plunge into the water, wading and casting for an hour or two.
This might all sound very sad, but don’t worry: it isn’t. It’s not like I’m angling for sympathy not to mention pity.
I feel good, not sad.

Sure I miss fishing as I used to, but reality is that I’m not going to fish that way again. I have come to terms with that a long time ago.
I have had a great week anyway.
I love being out “fishing”, and always have a great time on these trips. I go to the coast, I’m together with my wife, I cook and have some great meals, I tie flies and chat with friends.
It’s great being out.
Even without casting a single cast.

Comments

Katrine Kirk's picture

Touched...

Martin,
I was very touched by this blog post. I know that you inspire thousands and thousands of people with your site and your knowledgable, but also personal writings on all things fly fishing. I so admire the way you accept your physical limitations but still make the most of what is possible. And don't we all have days where something we actually love to do is just too much effort? I know I do. I love reading your thoughts, so thank you for sharing.

Inspired .......

Martin - I have been lurking on this site for quite a while and it is my first post. I want to thank you for this beautiful odd to "being out there". I see way too many fishermen complaining about the quality of the fishing or the size of the prize. I just came back from 2 weeks in the northwest US and been catching an releasing 6 to 10" rainbows as the steelheads were not really cooperating due to low water levels and extreme heat. I am a saltwater fly fisher on the Texas and Louisiana coast used to larger fish. What an exhilarating experience just to be on the water and enjoying the moment. I can not recall a better fishing trip with family around ... thanks to reminding us that it is not all about fishing but "connecting" with everything and everyone around us. As Katrine said, touched .....

With hope...

Dear Martin:

I am a new fly fisherman (if I can say that, as I am by no means good at it...). After my wife's Dad died several years ago, I inherited some conventional fishing gear and my wife (who fished with her Dad as a little girl) started teaching me what she had learnt. Two years ago I took a fly casting lesson and was hooked. Now I fly fish exclusively (and just recently started tying my own flies) and have found the poetic allure of the art of fly fishing.

I am also a Lab Animal Medicine Veterinarian specialized in research animal health and welfare and every day I read about exciting research looking into the disease mechanisms of many ailments that affect people (and pets). Obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancer...and I am hopeful that some day patients around the world will have a cure for so many devastating diseases including MS.

I sympathize with you and hope that these cures will be available to all sooner rather than later so everyone can fish, run, play their favorite instrument, see their daughters get married...

With admiration and much hope for you and all those who step up to the challenges that life brings and live to the fullest extent.

Noe

Martin Joergensen's picture

Appreciation...

Katrine, Eric and Noe,

Thank you all for your kind comments. I'm glad you enjoyed my little piece. I hope my writing will enable you as well as others to look at fishing in a perspective, which isn't just trophy hunting and pursuing the next and bigger fish or longer cast, but also remember to stop and enjoy life, nature, company, sights and smells. I have certainly learned to do so - the hard way, but still.

and Noe, regarding a cure for my disease, I surely live in the hope, but have long ago learned not to live my life expecting to be cured. It might happen, but then again it might not. I prepare for the worst and hope for the best - but remember to live while doing it.

Martin

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