summer in the city: fishing at st. edwards park

Saturdays have become play days for Taylor and I. Our schedules are structured a little differently during the week, and  that is the one day neither one of us has to work. We’ve learned to take advantage of this day, which more times than not means you will find us outside, with a packed lunch, hammock, frisbee, books and fly-fishing rods.

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It’s an understatement to say that being outside is a non-negotiable for my well-being. Really, it’s unbelievable how much better I feel about life after a good day in the sun. I love walking in my apartment, tired and dirty, smelling like the outside. It might be one of the most satisfying feelings I’ve experienced- just knowing that I pumped a little life into myself, that I did something healthy for my heart and soul, as well as my body.

Last Saturday was one of those good days. It was beautiful- low 90’s, a cool breeze, and the sun decided to take turns with the clouds.. giving you just enough time to cool off before it warmed you again with its rays. On one adventure last summer, Taylor and I found a wonderful swimming hole at St. Edwards Park. There were little rapids, a rope swing and a great flat area on the bank to hang out if you needed some downtime. We headed back there this Saturday, dreams of playing on that rope swing dancing in our minds.

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We began hiking down the trail to the creek, armed and ready with lunches, water bottles, fishing gear, a hammock and Ernest Hemingway. The trail was beautiful, littered with cactus and bright red and yellow flowers that scream Texas summer. After hiking for about 20 minutes, we found a spot to set up shop on a little island in between a fork in the creek. I began scoping out a reading spot where I could work on my tan, and Taylor immediately walked into the creek and began fishing.

If there’s one thing you should know about my husband, it’s that he loves fishing more than most things on earth. He will probably tell you one of the greatest moments of his life happened last year during our trip to Colorado. His family has a cabin in South Fork, and the Rio Grande River runs right through their property. Basically, it’s a fisherman’s dream. One evening, we put on waders and headed down to the river. Taylor fished, and I just stood next to him, waist deep in the river, and watched. It was so peaceful, so beautiful, so quiet. We used up every ounce of daylight, and just as the sun was setting Taylor caught a fish. By a fisherman’s standard, it wasn’t the best outing. But for Taylor, doing the thing that feeds his soul with the person he cared about most meant the world to him.

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Since we’ve been dating, Taylor has talked about teaching me to fly-fish. I’ve always given the semi-hesitant response of, “Ok, yea! Sometime… ” I’ve never really fished before and for some reason wasn’t exactly chomping at the bit to learn. I knew that Taylor loved it, but I didn’t have a reference for why. Finally, last Saturday, I decided it was time. I did say I was going to live it up this summer, didn’t I?

So, after a few hours of warming myself up to the idea… I watched Taylor fish for a while, we ate lunch, I read Wild by Cheryl Strayed for an hour… and then picked up a fly-rod and went to find my teacher. I was a little nervous as we found a spot, and he started showing me the basic motion of casting a rod. Mostly, I was nervous because I don’t like to fail. I like to be good at things.. really good. For example, if I played baseball I would be the type of player who tries to hit a home run every time up to bat. And fishing is a lot like baseball. You tend to get out more often than you get a base hit. But the thing is, if you never swing the bat you have zero chance of hitting the ball, much less hitting a home run. Taylor gave me a similar piece of advice on Saturday,

If you never put the fly on the water, you’ll never catch a fish. 

You can dream, and read, and learn, and think about casting as much as you want. You can false-cast (a new term I learned) forever, but if you never let the fly hit the water, you will never catch a fish. So, I started casting, learning to flick my wrist, trying to make adjustments in my movements at Taylor’s suggestions. Everything was going great. I hadn’t caught a fish, but I was proud of myself for learning. I was getting a little tired, and had surrendered myself to not catching a fish that day. It was my first time, after all, and I was content. Then, after a particularly unimpressive cast I was pulling the line back in, and felt a tug. I pulled the line back, and all of a sudden it was being dragged left and right by nothing less than a FISH. I began pulling in the line, and Taylor showed me how to grab the fish from the head so I didn’t get poked by his fins. We took out the hook, and then let the little guy go back in the water. My face was beaming. I caught my first fish! A few minutes later, I caught another one, much in the same fashion. And at that moment, I realized why sometimes, when Taylor is fishing, he doesn’t come home until it’s dark outside. You fall in love with the rhythm of it. One more fish.. just one more. And before you know it, you’ve lost track of time and dinner has been ready for 30 minutes. I get it a little more now.

I’m so glad I spent last Saturday learning how to fish. I’m so glad that I understand my husband a little bit more because of it, and now that’s something we can do together. I’m so glad that I came home muddy and wet and smelling like fish and the outdoors. My heart was full. All I had to do was have the courage to put the fly on the water.

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