Gunga Donn of the Woolly Worms, now resident in the depths of Oz, has always been a well-read and most erudite fellow – a man with a happy smile and a sense of humour, sharp as a razor. Behind his bearded visage lies the soul of a philosopher and a man who can look at life with a quizzical glance. He also has a strong literary bent, reads widely and from time to time comes across something which he thinks might appeal to me, and even possibly give me the basis for a column. Well, he has come good again, and as I was casting about for a topic, an e-mail arrived and solved the issue for me.
The piece was published on an American blog, obviously by an outdoorsman and a dedicated fisher. It contains a list of what he calls “The Best Fishing Lines” – short and pithy sayings which contain little gems of wisdom and insight. So with thanks to Gunga Donn, let me share some of them with you. If you think about them, you will find there is real wisdom here – of the sort that only comes when walking the waters with rod in hand. As Grandfather Izaak Walton said, fishing is the “contemplative man’s recreation”. He also gave the advice that has more thought in these words than anyone who is not a fisherman might ever imagine: “Rivers and the inhabitants of the watery element are made for wise men to contemplate, and for fools to pass by without consideration.”
Here’s a line that may help you when you spend more than you should at the tackle shop, and wake up the next morning with the bitter taste of buyer’s remorse in your mouth: “The man who coined the phrase, ‘money can’t buy happiness’ never bought himself a good fly rod.” Now how’s that? Reminds me that my grandmother used to wryly remark from time to time that “happiness is the one thing that can’t buy you money”. That may be very true, but then ponder for a moment the happiness you get from a good afternoon when the fish are rising freely and coming to the dry fly, your casts alight like thistledown and there is a not even a suspicion of drag, and tell me if you would rather have the money.
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