If you play golf for instance, you'll recall those games when you were in the zone. When you swung the club without thinking, when everything just flowed. It's a zen sort of thing. If you watch football you'll see a team go into the zone together sometimes, when they play with an unstoppable momentum. You'll also see that flow interrupted by the referees or an interception and watch that same team seem to stumble around on the field afterwards. There's a beauty to being in the zone that defies description, but that we've all recognized and felt.
With fishing, getting into the zone is smooth and natural and it lasts a long time. Being in the zone is being in harmony and that harmony is based on rhythm. It is a place we naturally want to be, instinctively and automatically need to be. It is soul satisfying in the most basic way our soul can be satisfied. We crave that place instinctively, longingly, lovingly. Fishing is a natural for getting and staying there.
Each fisherman has his own pace, a rhythm to his casting and retrieving and moving to another spot. Just like we all have our own walking pace.
The reasons for fishing getting us into a harmonious zone are fairly straight forward. First is that the objective is extremely simple and plain. The objective is to catch a fish. Many of life's objectives have multiple and confusing components. Not fishing, it is a clear and basic objective that allows us to focus very tightly. Catch a fish, that's all there is to it. Second, to catch a fish we cast out. We retrieve. We cast out. We retrieve. Over and over again. It's a rhythm. It's a rhythm that creates a harmony inside of us. We don't have to do much thinking about how to cast, that's a skill we develop very early on and give not much thought too once we've learned it. There's a pace to the retrieve, we often vary that pace based on what we think might work, but it's still a basic rhythm.
A typical fishing rhythm might be: Cast, retrieve, cast, retrieve, cast, retrieve, move three steps (or move the boat with the trolling motor a bit), cast, retrieve, cast, retrieve...there's a simple form of beauty in this. The slow, steady, methodical physical actions take over. We're outside in a beautiful place, we feel the sun on our skin, hear the breath of wind in the trees, feel the water on our legs, and we stop thinking about anything except the immediacy of what we are doing. The rhythm of the natural world seeps into us. The constant inner dialogue slows, slows more, and finally stops. We are in the zone, casting, retrieving, moving a bit, casting retrieving. Our minds and our bodies become tuned in to this, get in harmony. Our heart rate slows, our breathing slows, our thoughts slow. We are simply there, in the moment, in beauty. If that sounds like a hypnosis induction, it's because it is. We self-hypnotize without realizing. We flow into the zone, and stay there for long periods. The zone heals stress by restoring harmony.
That's why we go fishing. We don't need the fish, we need the objective of catching fish to put us on the water to cast, retrieve, cast, retrieve. It's the fishing rhythm that we need.