Saturday, January 5, 2013

Steelhead & Baseball

I've never kept track of my land-to-hookup. While I try to keep close track of water flows, flies used, temperature etc., tracking my "batting average" has never seemed all that important. More than likely it's because I'd be closer to the Mendoza Line than I'd care to admit.

But over the last few weeks of 2012 I found myself reflecting more on my batting average and it struck me how much similarity there is between hitting in baseball and landing a steelhead. One morning I hooked up four times before landing a fresh female. Much like a solid base hit toward the end of the game can turn an 0-for into a multi-RBI game, one solid steelhead can salvage what otherwise was a frustrating, frozen morning.

Follow up that fish with a four-for-four day while swinging a pink and white marabou intruder fly and you'll start thinking you've got this game all figured out. In baseball terms, you're seeing the ball well as it comes out of the pitcher's hand and you can tell from the way the seams are spinning whether it's curve, slider or fastball. You've got yourself convinced that you've finally cracked the code and there's no turning back.

Of course, the next day you're back in the batter's box and you can't buy a hit. You're so frustrated that what worked yesterday isn't working today that you're too distracted to respond when a steelie finally hits your fly on the swing. And even if you do hook up, you've lost your focus and lose the fish. You drudge home with another 0-for on the resume.

As the great hitter/fly fisherman Ted Williams said: Hitting is 50% above the shoulders. Or perhaps Yogi Berra was right when he said: You can't hit and think at the same time.

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