Downward facing dogfish

We’re at the time of year when prudent anglers start getting in shape for the long slog ahead.

By “prudent anglers” I mean “hardly anybody.”

Many years ago, when I was a callow youth of some 45 years, my off-season routine was simple. When I wasn’t working I rested.

I noticed, however, that when I first got into a big river like the Housatonic or Farmington in the spring, I didn’t have the leg strength I was used to.

Quite by chance I discovered the elliptical machine. You know, like a treadmill but harder to fall off.

The motion on an elliptical is very similar to wading in moving water.

So the next winter I ellipticalled like crazy. When spring rolled around, I was ready.

I found other ways to flounder, but I didn’t have trouble wading.

I also noticed an increasing tendency to stiffness. Think the Tin Man, before Dorothy got busy with the oil can.

I drew on my imperfect recollection of decades-old yoga sessions, and worked out a series of stretches that can be done in waders.

In fact they are best done in waders, if only for the shock value.

Anglers are, by and large, a small-c conservative bunch, very wary of change.

Doing my favorite angler’s yoga position, The Barfing Crane, streamside causes comment.

Photo by Patrick L. Sullivan

Step 1: Grasp your hands behind you. Ignore creaking sounds. Maintain tension.


Fast-forward to 2023. I found to my horror that I was weighing in at just a hair under 200 pounds, by which I mean 207 pounds.

This would have been bad enough when I was 5 feet 9 inches.

But cruel fate shrank me to 5 feet 7 and a half inches. I have avoided measuring lately. I don’t want to know.

So I went from being chunky to being positively spherical.

I went on a diet, which consisted mostly of avoiding bread and pasta.

This takes some getting used to. The worst part of carbohydrate-based post-acute withdrawal is waking up at 3:17 a.m. in a cold sweat after dreaming of buttered toast. Luckily this phase only lasts a year or two.

Haha! Just kidding. More like a week or two.

I added some exercise. I wanted something I could do at home, in the morning, without a lot of equipment or fuss. Something that would be portable, and not require a gym membership.

I blush with shame to admit that I own a yoga mat.

I also consulted with my cousin Jean, a yoga teacher.

She said I should strengthen my core.

“I don’t think I have a core,” I said.

“Everybody has a core,” she replied, patiently, as if speaking to a nitwit. Which she was.

She got me on crunches and planks. I added squats, with a 10-pound kettle bell, to replace the elliptical leg strength routine, because the old gym closed and I’m too cheap to sign up elsewhere.

And I use stretchy things, also known as resistance bands, for the upper torso, to loosen things up.

This regimen has undoubtedly delivered the goods. I have been holding steady at 170 pounds for months, and all my pants are too loose.

More to the point, when a fishable moment arises, I will be ready physically.

Mentally? That’s a discussion for another edition of Tangled Lines.

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