Tag Archives: Fishing Zen

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

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