Even imperfect outings are perfect all the same.

Pictures and Words by Jonathan Mehring

Late spring in New York City my friend Ports and I discussed the outdoors and the flow state one enters when fly fishing. Ports is an avid fly fisherman and invited me to come along to photograph him and a couple friends at one of their go-to clandestine spots. So, I did.

The drive to the Catskills took longer than anticipated and it was already getting late. We parked on the side of a gravely road near an undisclosed location rumored to be having a good hatch—when bugs take flight in the morning and the fish come out in abundance. We hurried through the woods to the river, carefully selected and tied flies, suited up and waded out into the cool mountain river. Bugs were taking flight over the water and fish were snapping and jumping in the eddies. Perfect.

The intoxicating, all-too-rare smell of nature for us urban dwellers is always the most visceral part of getting out of the city and this certainly was no exception. The breeze was blowing lightly, and it was a beautiful spring day for fly fishing.

I had squeezed into Ports’ old leaky waders and followed the group out into the shallow but rapidly running
water. Ports and his friends, Yui and Rob, were casting away in bliss, slowly walking upstream. I splashed along behind them, photographing to my heart’s content, trying to capture the perfect cast and hoping for a fish to bite. It wasn’t until later that I realized one boot was completely full of water and I couldn’t feel my toes, but in a flow state of my own, I simply didn’t care. Each of us was working towards perfecting our craft without regard for personal comfort. As it should be.

It hadn’t seemed like much time had passed when the sun disappeared behind the trees and dusk began to envelop us. We made our way back to the cars on a darkening riverside path. Only one trout had been caught but still the day felt like a huge success. As any fly fisherman will tell you, it’s not about catching the fish; it’s about catching life.

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