“There’s no wiggle in fly fishing!” said Stann Grater, 61, a fishing and casting instructor for Orvis who teaches college level courses in fishing at Gonzaga. He took us out for some casts on the Spokane River north of the city. While he told me not to wiggle, he was reaching up and untangling the line that had wrapped around my pole after my wiggling infraction. “Why the second ‘n’ in your name?” I asked. Grater replied, “My mom hated the name Stanley. That second n was to make sure people knew your name was Stann. Not Stanley.”
We stood in the shallows, my hip waders and wading boots slipping on the mossy rocks, which vary in size from a breadbox to a Volkswagen Beetle. It was a sunny day, and Grater explained to me why the trout weren’t biting.
“You’re there with your sunglasses and hat. Well, the fish doesn’t have eyelashes and can’t close its eyes. They can’t shield the sun, so they swim deeper to avoid it. Hence, our graceful casts would be to no avail. We did see the little orange strike indicator plunge a few times.
“But when they take a bite the trout realizes it’s not a midge or a fly, but a hook. They spit it right out!” You gotta hook ’em right then, with a jerk on the excess line, that you held by your forefinger.
The sunlight glinted off the rapids of the river, and casting felt light and easy. It was just about the nicest thing I could think of to do at that moment. And fishing, really, is about that moment. That relaxing cast, that easy rhythm, that effortless plunge of uninterrupted nothingness. Yes that’s fishing in Washington. It’s like a long drink, satisfying, before, during and after.