These are challenging times with our widespread health concerns. I know some people that are already starting to go a bit stir-crazy as they feel confined to their homes.

At the current restriction level, exercising outdoors is still considered safe. While I enjoy biking, my preferred form of “exercise” is fly-fishing.

I would bet that most folks would not really consider fly-fishing exercise, but I count it as both physical and mental exercise. I often come home a little sore from climbing up and down stream banks after several hours of fishing; always with a smile on my face, regardless of how many fish I caught that day.

The focus that it requires putting my fly under a tree or to manage the perfect drift through a deep, swirling run requires me to think only about what I am doing at that moment. The concentration that demands has always helped me when I was feeling stressed about something at work, or just needed a chance to unwind. Truth be told, even tying on a size 18 fly requires more focus as I stubbornly refuse to wear “cheater” glasses for a little longer.

Fly-fishing is a great way to get out in the fresh air and enjoy nature instead of feeling locked up at home. Any fishing gets you outdoors, but fly-fishing necessitates movement and the need to provide more space between anglers.

I often drive up to the lake or stream by myself, and even if I fly-fish with a friend, it usually means that one of us will fish downstream, while the other heads upstream. We typically only see each other and talk on the way home. Of course, if I fish with a friend, we may drive separately and just talk over lunch at the stream.

Sometimes we opt to fish in the same direction, especially on small streams where we enjoy watching each other try for small wild fish that are hidden behind rocks, logs, or willow sweeps. On these occasions, we take turns on likely holes and watch from a distance to avoid spooking the fish, while providing encouragement.

Often, the non-fisher acts as a spotter from high on the bank to let the fisherman know where the fly is as he crouches behind a large boulder, or if a fish flashed and missed the fly to encourage another cast.

Slowing down and watching a deer walk by in the woods unaware of my presence in the stream, or seeing an eagle or osprey grab a trout from the lake is a true joy. Inspecting the aquatic insects on the rocks in the riffles is something that I have done on almost every trip since I was a kid. These non-fishing activities have always added tremendously to my fishing excursions.

As we all look for ways to stay healthy, I encourage you to get out and enjoy the forests, streams, and lakes around Rim Country. The peace, tranquility, and beauty that a small stream brings means even more to me these days.

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