"You can't buy happiness but you can buy fishing gear, and that's kind of the same thing" — unknown author
On the day this article posts at FEE.org, I’ll be landing rainbow and cutthroat trout near Philipsburg, Montana, with three great friends: writer and director of “Tank Man” Robert Anthony Peters and FEE colleagues Javi Perez and Tyler Brandt.
A Week of Bliss
As always, a week in the glorious wilds of Montana will be the calmest, most relaxing and rejuvenating seven days of my year. I’ll think of it at least once every 24 hours until I go again next year. We’ll hike, spot moose and deer (and a bear if we’re really lucky), devour our own cabin-cooked food, and solve many of the world’s problems over a campfire with cigars and liquid refreshments. But I know the best moments will find us in the water with rod and reel in hand.
[Bliss] is the antidote to the unabating bombardment of noise, stress, and distractions we deal with the other 51 weeks of the year.
“Fishing” isn’t the best term for what we’ll be doing. We’ll be “angling.” Fishing is the generic word for catching fish, which can be accomplished with or without a rod and reel. For instance, as these video clips reveal, you can catch a fish with string, with a club, with a net, with a spear, with dynamite, or even with your bare hands.
An angler uses a rod, a reel and, at the end of a line, a lure with a hook in it. The lures we’re using in Montana are “flies” with names like “hopper,” “nymph,” and “midge”—man-made imitations of insects. We’ll wade into streams up to our waists, stalk our prey, revel in the sheer beauty of a perfect cast and plant each fly where a trout can’t resist it. We’ll release most of what we catch but save a few for dinner.
Nature, Bliss, and Angling
Why do we love doing this? I’ll speak for myself but I’m pretty sure Robert, Javi, and Tyler will agree: It’s sheer bliss. We all need bliss. Bliss is good for the mind and body. It’s the antidote to the unabating bombardment of noise, stress, and distractions we deal with the other 51 weeks of the year.
Nearly 400 years ago, an Englishman named Izaak Walton wrote a classic about fly fishing. “No book, apart from the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer,” claims one reviewer, “has been more often reprinted.” Titled The Compleat Angler and modernized in more recent editions as The Complete Angler, the first edition appeared in 1653. The book exudes praise for this remarkable pastime:
"God never did make a more calm, quiet, innocent recreation than angling."
"You will find angling… [to have] a calmness of spirit and a world of blessing attending upon it."
"Blessings upon all that hate contention, and love quietness, and virtue, and angling."
"Doubt not but angling is so pleasant that it will prove to be, like virtue, a reward to itself."
Maybe fly fishing isn’t your thing. For bliss, maybe you listen to classical music or lie on a beach, read a good book or do a little yoga. That, of course, is perfectly alright. Life is personal and value is subjective. By whatever means you choose, I hope bliss is on your agenda for this long Labor Day weekend.
Be assured that when we get back to the grind in a few days, there’ll be plenty of noise, stress, and distraction to occupy our time.