Get outside and fly fish

Social distancing is at the forefront of discussion across the globe, so what better way to accomplish this feat than grabbing a fly rod, your most enticing flies, and hitting the water?

Fly fishing is a typical American outdoor activity, which involves an angling method that uses a light-weight lure—called an artificial fly—to catch fish. The fly is cast using a fly rod, reel, and specialised weighted line.

With businesses closing and stay-at-home mandates never-ending, along with a barrage of anxiety-inducing news headings about the current pandemic, individuals and families are experiencing heightened stress levels. Getting outside is not only an overwhelming want at this moment, it is a growing need. Getting outside just for the sake of getting outside is not enough, so fly fishing can be just what the doctor ordered. 

We keep hearing about keeping two or even three feet distance from others, but I feel more comfortable with nine. A nine-foot fly rod is sure to keep people distanced from each other while fishing, not to mention the twenty plus feet of line being used to present those flies equipped with a sharp, sometimes barbed, hook. A face piercing acquired next to a mountain stream does not sound fun, so give that angler his/her space. The determined angler does not want anyone scaring his/her fish away either, so go find your own honey hole. I do not know of another leisure activity that ethically requires other partakers to keep their distance, so I consider fly fishing to be not only compliant, but therapeutic. 

Being required to stay home with the spouse and children for weeks and months at a time can have one feeling some increased stress. Mindfulness strategies are well-known as are their benefits to an individual’s mental health when considering stress. Fly fishing can give an individual the greatest mindfulness experience of their lifetime. Listening to the running water, the trees in the breeze, the birds chirping, the insects buzzing, and the fly line cutting the air as it is casted are time-halting experiences. Feeling the cold water current flowing around the legs, the sun on the skin, and the breeze through the hair give an incredible sense of oneness with the earth. Smelling the freshness of the mountain air, the smell of impending rain, and the damp smell of mud, moss, and algae remind us that this is home to many others who do not walk on two legs. Watching a trout rise to a perfectly presented fly while experiencing all of these sensations, while exhilarating, makes all of the stressors in life seem non-existent. 

Fly fishing exposes us to the sun, so that means vitamin D production is occurring while you have an experience of a lifetime. We know that vitamin D is important for our immune systems, so it is extremely important to have sufficient vitamin D during this pandemic. Vitamin D is also known to help reduce depression, and I think we have all also read about increased anxiety and depression during stay- at-home orders. Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids consumed when eating fish may also have a role in reducing depression. Fly fishing is THE outdoor activity that will get someone through the pandemic while providing for physical, mental, and physiological health. 

Leisure occupation away from home has been stripped from our lives. Children can’t play in parks or play organised sports, and adults can’t shop, go out to dance, or enjoy a cold beer at their favourite watering hole. Getting outdoors is as important as it has ever been during these trying times. 

Fly fishing offers a safe, fun, and healthy experience for people of all ages and sociocultural backgrounds. When the cabin fever kicks in and there are feelings of anxiety, depression, and/or stress, grab that rod and head for the most bug-infested water you can find and have the time of your life. 

Your well-being may depend on it. 

Author: Anthony Gustamantes 

Bio: Anthony Gustamantes is an OTA, OT student, husband, father, and fly fishing enthusiast from New Mexico.

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