On Lost Flies and Earth Day

April 22, 2009 By: Marshall Cutchin

I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks first of trees whenever Earth Day rolls around. I can trace my own early celebration of environmental awareness to the ritual planting of a leafless sapling on school grounds each spring. But I didn’t really begin to appreciate trees until I began to learn a bit about natural science, and then about the essential role trees play in complex ecosystems. Beyond the obvious benefits — carbon uptake and oxygen production — trees make possible the existence of innumerable other plant and animal species. Among those species are virtually every type of trout, which depend on trees to either keep water temperatures low, interrupt river flows, hide them from predators, prevent erosion of river and stream banks, store and release minerals, and support the myriad forms of animal and insect life that fish eat to survive. Not to mention all the other interrelationships we don’t yet understand.
So the next time your ill-measured backcast wraps your fly around a high branch, pause before cursing, and take a moment to marvel that the tree is there at all. Maybe, in addition to being a reason you could even hope to find a fish in that water, on that day, it is there to remind you to work on your roll cast.