The Meditative Fisherman by author Bryan Archer
Bryan Archer, a British writer, fly fisherman and traveler, has released “The Meditative Fisherman, Lifetime Reflections on Fly Fishing”. While fishing always, he has assembled a wonderful collection of adventures and considerations with journeys through waters waded and understandings questioned. His words are steady with significance while flowing with spirits rising over moving waters and always are respectful of influential anglers, writers and thinkers. This is a welcomed treatise on time, flies, friends, values and how our perspective shapes our understanding and the waters we fish.
“The Meditative Fisherman” floats readers through Mr. Archer’s angling travels but in the mist of drift boats, from which he introduces guides and flies, emerges significant historical anecdotes and brief but heartfelt observations on Eastern religions, personal sacrifice and meditation. They blend to create not quite a biography, but a series of slow, careful, ruminative messages on life and trout. Despite the title, I wasn’t prepared for frequent philosophy, prostate cancer, and thousand-mile views of personal life on our small planet. This is not a meandering philosophy textbook sprinkled with trout and does not read as one person pushing their world on ours; it reminds us there is more to fishing and life than just casting and keeping.
Life is more, in reflection, than loves and waters
“There are times when I am but a primeval being, a caveman. Ancient instincts flood through me when I hook a fish, adrenaline surges through my veins, and the latent hunting instinct of prehistoric man takes over,” Mr. Archer writes. His writing is wonderful, it asks for time, it rekindles your personal experiences. This life is challenging, like fishing. Anglers, good anglers, learn each time they approach a bank or shore. Not all appreciate what they see but those good anglers, they have deep wells into which they can draw for inspiration or solid footing.
Mr. Archer brings us along to great fishing destinations like Montana, New Zealand, the Maldives, Scotland and Spain, in addition to several waters of his homeland. Chapters often begin with talk of flies, rods and guide instructions then smoothly transition to high level thoughts of how all we accumulate stuff, in tackle boxes or heads, and can improve organization for both for lives reduced, reclaimed and appreciated. “If I now try to be more like the person I am comparing myself with, then I am denying what I am myself. In the process of not comparing, I accept others completely as who they are,” he writes.
Midway, I realized Mr. Archer was offering me some pause. Life, like angling, is often about the present, the moment, the photo, the fish or love we land or lose. His writing reminded me about the days between, how we are born, grow old and pass. Presiding in the middle can be congestion or easy winds, clutter or space. “In fact, it is better to accept that something might or might not happen and be satisfied with both these outcomes. Patience and expectation seem to be inextricably intertwined, when in fact, it’s not about the waiting, but about accepting the present and future, whatever they might provide.” He subliminally asked me, between details of Adams, Elk Hair Caddis and Klinkhammer flies, to contemplate how we understand time, how we eventually look back with scrutiny, hopefully happily, then apply that to what is important now. Perspective is everything, I believe, in life and fishing and with each new page, it was clear Mr. Archer is grateful for his life and opportunities.
“Our party had some expert fishermen-I would class some of them as world-class, though that distinction didn’t include me,” he writes, showing his occasional moments of self-deprecation, but his angling talent is true, even without his saying so. He rose to a level of successful competitiveasting, landed fish throughout the world, and remained humble for his talents. He praises writers John Gierach and Will Storr, Professor Bruce Hood and teacher Satya Narayan Goenka but this isn’t a fan book, it’s an uncommon journey laced with fleeting youth, changing health, considerate mindfulness, devoted practitioners and enough lovely locations to bring together a man’s life, immersed in water.
Bryan Archer is a grateful angler and writer
Seasoned through135 pages are introductions to exceptional ancient and modern writers, creators of now universal fly patterns and peaceful teachers of Vipassana meditation, all of whom positively affected his life. And there is lots of fishing, provided without ego or vanity. His travels are presented, in a style similar to Mr. Gierach’s, on easy prose that stays true to events and never overlooks surrounding beauty. “The Meditative Fisherman” was not the book I expected because I had foolishly created expectations with no basis and as I loved the book, that may be the best recommendation. “I wish I was able to come to terms with what fishing is all about and understand the many contradictions that continue after all these years to puzzle me.” Amen. You can purchase your copy through Ensemble Publishing and major book retailers.