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Merry Christmas, 2016

5 Dec

Merry Christmas 2016

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To all my readers, please accept my sincerest wishes for a joyous, peaceful, familial Christmas Season.

Each year at this time, I remind myself of the lyrics from the eternal John Lennon song, War Is Over;
“And so this is Christmas, and what have you done? Another year over and a new one has begun.”
Please join me in reflecting back on our deeds, thoughts and emotions of the last year and where necessary make adjustments in the forthcoming year.
Let us embrace the simple concept that giving is better than receiving. In doing so, we benefit not only the recipient, but also our own sense of self and self-worth.
My very best wishes that we may embrace this Christmas with joy and hope as the path of the forthcoming year begins to unfold.

I remain,

Sensei John

Sensei John

Sensei John Szmitkowski

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© Copyright 2016 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.

The Fly Fisherman & The Satori Fish

6 Oct

The following is my fly fishing inspired retelling of an infamous Zen tale. The traditional tale is known as “The Woodcutter and The Animal Satori.” To those who are not familiar with the term Satori, the name of the animal, Satori, is loosely defined as a Zen state of enlightenment. I call my tale “The Fly Fisherman and The Satori Fish.”

In a far-off land there lived a man. The man’s life was devoid of pleasure; save for one. He loved to escape the blandness of his existence by fly fishing. Once a week, he would escape the drive two hours to escape the city to fish “his” river. Although the beauty of the river provided him a respite from the bleak landscape in which he lived, the man fished many weeks without hooking a fish.
One day, the man had had enough. He wasn’t sure if he really wanted to take the long trip to the river. Despite his malaise, he again drove to the river. Once he arrived, he dutifully donned his waders and set up his fly fishing rod. To the end of his leader, he tied on his newest, fanciest dry fly. It was a fly pattern called a “Great Expectation”, size 14. He was about to cast when he noticed a beautiful silver streak in the water. The man could not believe his eyes. He blinked as if to clear both his vision and his mind. The silver streak remained and defined itself. The silver streak was in fact the mythical Satori Fish.
He focused his attention on the Satori Fish and began to cast. The Great Expectation gently kissed the surface of the water. The cast was perfect, the fly floated high on the water. Satori turned its gaze upward and with a swift, powerful stroke of its tail, swam towards the fly. His heart pounding in his chest, the man focused his attention and tensed his muscles. Surely Satori would be seduced to take the fly. Had man’s Great Expectation actually seduced Satori? No, instead of Satori engulfing the Great Expectation, Satori brushed it aside and swam downward. Satori was again laying peacefully at the bottom of the River.
“Damn”, cursed the man. “Surely, I must change my fly.” He checked his box of flies. Thinking that Satori could be tempted with a delicate, subsurface fly, he selected a fly tied in a pattern known as an “emerger.” He selected a size 16 “Emerging Intention.” Again the man cast upstream. He diligently watched the end of his line for the slightest indication of a strike. Again, the Satori Fish eluded his offering. His frustration heightened.
He cursed his luck. So many weeks and not even a hint of a fish within the river. Now, this magnificent silver fish spurned his offering. His desire to feel that magnificent silver Satori tugging at the end of his fly line heightened to a frenzy. He angrily dug into his fly box and tied on a larger, hopefully, more appetizing fly. This time he selected an “attractor” pattern. The fly was garish, brightly colored and multi-feathered. It was a size 10 “Temptress.” The worker imagined that Satori would attack the brightly colored “Temptress” out of instinct and a desire to protect its territory within the river. This time the man cast the fly across the river and retrieved it with a fast stripping action of his line. His mind was filled with a burning desire to hook Satori. He wanted nothing more from life this day than to hold the shimmering silver mass of Satori flesh within his hands. He would possess Satori. Once caught, he would keep the Satori fish. He would mount it as a magnificent possession on the wall of his dim home. He would possess Satori for all the rest of his days. The worker saw the Satori burst towards the “Temptress.” Instead of engulfing the fly, Satori merely swam past it. Satori turned and watched the man. By now, he had had enough. He was done. “To Hell with Satori.” Satori was not for him.
He walked out of the river and sat on the bank. He cut the “Temptress” off his leader and tied on an bland, simple fly, a # 12 “Bare Bones.” He cursed and put his rod down on the bank. He sat angrily on the river bank and realized that he was hungry. He had pursued Satori all morning without eating. He opened his pack and retrieved a thermos and a sandwich. “To Hell with Satori”, thought the worker. “I will eat my sandwich and go home.”
As the worker ate his meal, he noticed that the “Bare Bones” fly was in the river. As he was eating, he did not pay attention as he put his fly rod down and the fly fell into the current. It was drifting downstream, a few feet from the bank. The worker did not want the unattended fly to get tangled in the waters. He put down his sandwich and picked up the fly rod. Instantly he felt a tug. He cursed his luck for he was sure the fly was tangled. As the man sought to free the fly from the tangle, he noticed that the line was moving. He began to fight the weight at the end of the line. As he did so, the water erupted. A silver flash momentarily glistened in the sun light and disappeared into the river.
A few minutes later, the man was holding the Satori Fish gently in his hands. So as not to harm Satori, he held the fish gently just below the surface as he unhooked the fly from its jaw. Satori was free. It did not swim away. Satori remained gently cradled in the man’s hands. He smiled. He caressed the side of Satori as if it was the check of a lover. Satori gently swam from the man’s hands. Satori turned to face the man. For the briefest of moments, the man’s world stopped. No longer independent of Satori and nature, all was one; the man knew Satori and Satori knew the man. Each then turned; Satori to the depths of the river, and the man to his car. For the man the long ride home was, perhaps, not so long, to a not so bland city, to work at a not so boring job and life in a a not so bleak home.

vulture-me  Fishing in the strong sun of Arizona,  I’m always wearing an uv protection shirt I purchased from Wicked Catch gear. You can visit their website at http://www.wickedcatchgear.com/fishing-shirts/
use promo code: WCProstaff-JSzmitkowski at checkout for a 5 % discount (not applicable to shipping costs and taxes).

Sensei John

Sensei John

Sensei John is available for guest speaking engagements. Please see the “GUEST SPEAKING” Page tab above for more information.

Follow FLY FISHING DOJO on FACEBOOK, please send a friend request on Facebook; see our “Video & Media” Page for more information.

Please feel free to “window shop” our unique logo products by clicking on the “SHOP” page tab above.

FEATURED PRODUCT: Fly Fishing Dojo logo coffee mug      ffd coffee mug

sunsu-cactus  Please feel free to view my other weblog dedicated to exploring martial arts ideology and concepts as they can be applied to daily life at http://senseijohn.me

Catching A Specific Fish – Like An Asteroid Hitting The Earth

25 Aug

eath asteroid     I was recently watching a science themed show. The show discussed all the random factors that would have to come together for an asteroid to hit the Earth. The odds are all these random events coming perfectly together where staggering.

The show made me think about all the random decisions, factors and events that converge to put man and fish together at the exact moment in time so that man hooks fish. When you think about all the randomness that goes into hooking a specific fish, the odds are as staggering as an asteroid hitting the Earth.

For example, July 2nd, 2014 I hooked my largest catfish ever on a fly rod (video is below). Here is a list of all the random choices, decisions and factors that went into catching that one fish.

Before heading out to fish:

  • We woke-up later than normal therefore a trip to the big waters of the Lower Salt River or Canyon Lake was not feasible given our time allotment and weather;
  • weather forecast hot triple digit temperatures before noon;
  • our team member that beat cancer was still not one hundred percent and has difficulty on hot sunny mornings;
    the above considerations led to a decision to fish a a community lake (previously Urban Lake system);
  • the most likely candidate was Water Ranch Lake as we hadn’t fished there since our member finished chemotherapy and we needed video footage of this lake for a DVD project;
  • we began to get ready with this “plan” in mind;
    loading the truck the sun was already intense so we decided to change locations to Red Mountain Lake which offered more shade than Water Ranch Lake;
  • the plan was to walk once around the lake sight fishing and casting in locations that were previously productive and then call it a morning;

Once we arrived at Red Mountain Lake:

  • We tied on our most productive lures and flies and set out;
  • on the fly rod I chose a fly that I purchased for carp fishing but that was also productive for bass;
  • walking along the bank we fished the entire lake in about an hour and a half;
  • at this point, we were done fishing;
  • I stopped to talk to a fellow fisherman (who is heard in the video) and took a few moments to show him fly fishing. This took about ten minutes;
  • we continued to walk along the bank back to the truck;
  • about fifteen feet from where we would turn towards the parking lot, we spotted a huge cat fish right by the bank;
  • with all rods rigged, and the carp fly already tied on, I made a decision to try with the fly rod;
  • six or seven casts later, it was “Fish on!”

ALL of the above led up to that exact moment in time and place when our path crossed with that of the catfish. A different lake, a few minutes sooner or later, a different choice of lure and the hook-up would have never happened.

So, catching a specific fish is like an asteroid hitting the Earth. A series of random choices, events, decisions and factors that come together to put man and fish together under exactly the right circumstances.

In the video I’m wearing an uv protection shirt I purchased from Wicked Catch gear. You can visit their website at http://www.wickedcatchgear.com/fishing-shirts/
use promo code: WCProstaff-JSzmitkowski at checkout for a 5 % discount (not applicable to shipping costs and taxes).

Sensei John

Sensei John

FFD-STICKERS-2_Fotor  As a Thank-you for reading, I have listed a two-pack of FlyFishing Dojo on E-bay for only $ 1.00 which includes mailing. To get your FFD sticker two-pack, simply go to e-bay and search “Fishing stickers-FlyFishing Dojo Logo blog” – do not bid more than the $1.00, I’ll keep listing while supplies last.

office-mug-shirt  Please feel free to “window shop” our unique logo products by clicking on the “SHOP” page tab above. In the photo is the FFD logo coffee mug and baseball shirt.

sunsu-cactus  Please feel free to view my other weblog dedicated to exploring martial arts ideology and concepts as they can be applied to daily life at http://senseijohn.me

Match The Hatch?!?

9 Jun

Recently, there was a bit of “reality t.v.” type drama at the Lower Salt River.

Di and I were fishing in the area of the Phon D. Sutton parking lot. A few yards up river and across the back there was quite a commotion. Through a crack in a rock outcropping, we were able to catch a few glimpses.

On the far bank, a Maricopa County Sheriff on horseback (with guns drawn) could be seen circling back and forth along a short stretch of shoreline. Federal Game and Fish Wardens rushed to find a safe spot to cross the river.

I heard yelling, “Come out now with your hands up!”

Okay, that got my attention.

I half-heartedly fished as I kept one eye focused in the direction of the yelling. In part I was curious, in part I wanted to know when to take cover in case shots were fired. I cast to a cruising largemouth as “bad boys, bad boys, what ya gonna do?” drifted through my mind. Suddenly, the exasperated cavalry officer gave one last warning, “Come out and we can talk, if we come in to get you, its jail!

Di and I now paid more attention to the scene as it played out. Off in the distance, I heard a thumping roar. Soon a MCSO helicopter joined the search. I looked upward to watch as the copter flew in ever decreasing circles.

I couldn’t help but wonder –

hatch helicopter copy

My stream-side notes don’t indicate the fly I selected to match-the-hatch, but I do recall it had a hackle tied parachute style. 👀

A few days later, we were fishing at Canyon Lake. A MSCO officer came by to check fishing licenses. I asked him if he knew anything about the incident at the river. From what he knew, it seems that someone was poaching honey from bee boxes. Not only that but in the driest and hottest week so far, this fool lit a fire for smoke to calm the bees and ended up burning an acre of brush. The poacher is now behind bars pending his arraignment.

I hope you enjoyed this submission. Look for my next fishing journal at the end of this month.

In the photo I’m wearing a sun protection shirt I purchased from Wicked Catch gear. You can visit their website at http://www.wickedcatchgear.com/fishing-shirts/
use promo code: WCProstaff-JSzmitkowski at checkout for a 5 % discount (not applicable to shipping costs and taxes).

Sensei John

Sensei John

   FFD-STICKERS-2_Fotor  As a Thank-you for reading, I have listed a two-pack of FlyFishing Dojo on E-bay for only $ 1.00 which includes mailing. To get your FFD sticker two-pack, simply go to e-bay and search “Fishing stickers-FlyFishing Dojo Logo blog” – do not bid more than the $1.00, I’ll keep listing while supplies last.

Sensei John is available for guest speaking engagements. Please see the “GUEST SPEAKING” Page tab above for more information.

Follow FLY FISHING DOJO on FACEBOOK, please send a friend request on Facebook; see our “Video & Media” Page for more information.

Please feel free to “window shop” our unique logo products by clicking on the “SHOP” page tab above.

CIMG2517  Please feel free to view my other weblog dedicated to exploring martial arts ideology and concepts as they can be applied to daily life at http://senseijohn.me

 

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