Reaching that plateau of expertise is the challenge we all strive for. The last step of this fly fishing doctorate is so hard to reach due to the fact that the few fly fishing experts are old and reluctant to tell their secrets. Their thesis is many years on the water, watching, waiting...capturing experiences of a life time of casting the fly.
To those of you who wish to become a part of this fraternity, push on. Keep the faith. Never quit. This art takes more time than becoming a brain surgeon. The up side is your class room is in the rivers and streams of the rolling countryside. One might say I never cut a class, all spare time is spent in my waders gaining experience in the "Man versus Nature" scenario.
I often think back to those days fifty years ago, how naive I was. However, learning was so much fun. Decades of quiet days on the river will never be forgotten. Today as I watch my sons continue on, I pass the baton with great pride. Old legs, bad knees, do slow me down but the love gets stronger. My memories are vivid. Dreaming of the ones that got away still put me to sleep on cold winter nights here in northern Michigan.
I have fishing aquatinances who have an immense amount of knowledge they will not share. Valuable knowledge that will be lost with their passing. I consider that a form of greed. So I adhere to my Mother, Sweet Mary's advice;
"You can only take with you the things you give away."
But I, being poor, have only my dreams. I have spread my dreams
under your feet; tread softly, because you tread on my dreams.
William Butler Yeats 1865-1939...Irish Poet