Why I Fish: The Absolute Power of Disconnection

by Mark McGlothlin on November 19, 2012

in Why I Fish

Viewed through the eye of the non-fishing observer, a great deal of the proceedings associated with fly fishing must appear rather ritualistic.

Thinking about it over the past couple of flu-addled days, my fishing compadres and I have succumbed to a fair number of rituals during the twenty-seven years I’ve been fly fishing.

(Tangential thought – damn, I wonder how many hundreds (if not thousands) of flies I’ve left stranded in riverside / lakeshore / lakebottom / bayou backwater foliage in twenty-seven years? Later note to self – consider it a well-spent investment…)

We fishers draw powerful solace from many of our favorite rituals, everything from checking and packing gear to arranging fly boxes to rigging to how we suit up in streamside gear for the river day.

Recently I’ve come to appreciate even more another ritual that Jake, I and others have developed over the past few years while fishing around Bozeman – the powerful ritual of disconnecting from the electronic leash that binds most of us to reality.

At the risk of sounding to some as one who was born before the earth’s crust cooled, I grew up in an era without cell phones and email; hell, the first home-based personal computers were all but a fantastical novelty in 1977 when I graduated from high school.

As barbaric and uncivilized as those days sound today, back in that day we could actually wave goodbye to friends and family, drive to the mountains to fish and backpack for ten days, severing the tethers that bound us to the humdrum and stress of school, work, bills and the daily grind.

It’s probably just my the years blurring the edges of my memory these days, but it seems we wrote more back then (using – gasp – pen and paper), read more, conversed more and spent more time just thinking about things.

Somehow we got along just fine without the moment by moment barrage of email, texts, social networking sinkholes, cell calls and streaming internet.

Today driving south from Bozeman the roughly 90 miles to West Yellowstone and the West Gate fishers must traverse a fair number of miles where the electronic lease is thankfully severed by geography.

Cell coverage ends just beyond the first crossing of the Gallatin headed into the northern reaches of the Gallatin Canyon, pops back up for a few minutes in the Big Sky Meadows and then vanishes again until you’re almost in West Yellowstone. When headed to the upper Gallatin or on into Yellowstone we’ve come to almost ceremoniously kill the phones at the mouth of the Canyon.

Unhooking the electronic leash on the way to the river, even for a few hours, often yields industrial-strength benefits. Caution is in order; you just might find yourself enjoying the disconnected state so much you crave even more.

Unhooking the electronic lease makes the fly fishing rituals of the day sweeter than ever.

I love the absolute power of disconnection.

Images Shane Rickert and Jake McGlothlin