Chasing The American Dream

I trout fish on backwoods lakes and streams where I often see bears and moose. I think it’s the complexity of the challenge that keeps me fishing. I gave up keeping the fish long ago because I don’t eat them. In fact, I use a barbless hook on all my flies so trout are more challenging to catch, but easy to release.

Years ago, I began tying my own flies and it has become a bit of an obsession with me.

There are an infinite number of possibilities when tying flies, but the most effective ones simulate specific insects. We call it “matching the hatch” and we tend to gravitate toward those particular flies that imitate an aquatic insect once we see it on the water.

Trout are very aware of which insects are hatching on any given day, so catching a large rainbow requires the angler to be observant.

The bigger the trout, the smarter it is. Big fish are big because they’ve outsmarted many fishermen for many years.

Globalization, outsourcing and downsizing have affected trout fishing dramatically. Instead of being able to purchase a great fly from an experienced fly-tyer, most fishermen are forced to purchase flies tied by seven-year-old African children who are paid pennies an hour to churn out dozens of flies using the cheapest possible materials. Since most fishermen don’t tie their own, they have to purchase cheap, assembly-line copies and never know any better. Fish do.

The best fly fishermen tie their own flies slowly from their personal stash of expensive feathers, beads, hooks and fabrics of every imaginable color and texture. The ultimate reward comes from our own inventions and creative insect copies.

In my tying years, I’ve created over a thousand such flies and only one has proven to be highly effective. I have one special room filled with fly-tying materials from all over the world and I’ve spent countless hours tying wet and dry flies.

On the rare occasion when a new effective pattern is invented, the rumor spreads quickly among our small community of fly fishing enthusiasts. If someone in England creates a successful fly, we’ll know about it in British Columbia in a matter of days and begin to immediately copy it. There are very few secrets in this sport.

And that brings me to the purpose of this blog. Two weeks ago I made a momentous discovery. Somebody had created a new insect pattern that is so blasted effective that they named it, “The Guaranteed.”

I bought the last four Guaranteeds I could find anywhere in our province and immediately began to search for the rare peacock neck feathers required to make it.

Literally, everybody was out of those feathers, partly because they’re so expensive and partly because very few flies, until now, required their usage. At 50 cents to $1.00 per feather, most tiers consider the peacock neck plumage an absurdity.

I have a different opinion. Any feather that will catch a big rainbow trout is priceless. Thanks to my 23-year Network Marketing career, I view rare feathers as a necessity, not a luxury.

So, all my friends wanted me to tie up some Guaranteeds, but there were no feathers anywhere. Then I found a farmwoman in the backwoods of Oregon who had peacocks all over her acreage and literally bags of neck feathers.

She asked me how many I wanted at a few cents apiece and I asked, “Do you have any hefty trash bags?” She laughed and collected a couple of hundred which cost me less than the overnight Fed Express charge to ship them. She thought I was nuts paying $50 for overnight delivery. I thought I’d died and gone to trout heaven.

I spent the next hour calling all my fishing buddies who were as excited as I was about the miracle discovery. When my wife Valerie came home, I explained my unbelievable find and she later told me that she had never seen me quite so excited.

That night, as I sat back contentedly and thought about my good fortune, it occurred to me just how silly life really is. Here I am approaching sixty, having enjoyed a life filled with mansions, airplanes, jet boats, Lotus Esprit Turbos, Swiss Chalets and Aspen ski homes. I spent six decades chasing the American Dream and no matter what I acquired, I always wanted more.

I used to think that I could find contentment and fulfillment if I just accumulated the right material possessions…and I was right to a certain extent.

I just wish someone had enlightened me when I was much younger to the real meaning of life, but no one told me the truth. So let me spare you years of unnecessary stress and toil.

Here’s the ultimate secret:

Serenity is the ability to derive absolute fulfillment from a bag of nickel feathers that may or may not arrive overnight.

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