Work-life balance is hard to find as a teacher. It can be as elusive as the most cunning fish in the sea. Work typically follows you home at night, on the weekends and even on vacations. We know that’s not healthy and that burnout is a very real outcome if balance between work-life and personal life is not established.
Sure, there are a few blessed individuals who love what they do so much, that work doesn’t feel like work at all. If you are one of those lucky individuals, good for you! I mean that sincerely, but for everyone else, consider following the sage advice of Mr. Miyagi “go find balance!” (Oh, by the way you can love your job and still burn out fast if work is your only reality. Here are some warnings that you might be in burnout trouble)
What does balance look like? In my opinion, exercise, solo time in nature and time spent with family and friends are all contributing factors to a healthy, happy and balanced life. Well, is there one pastime that can give you a workout, bring you closer to nature either alone or with family and friends and ease your troubled mind without going broke? Why yes there is, go fishing!
Some of you might have just cringed and are thinking twice about reading the next sentence, but don’t stop yet. I for one am not a natural fisherman. Most of my fishing pursuits have ended in tangled lines, broken reels, and very few fish. I probably caught myself with hooks more times than I landed a fish. There was one exception, a magical fly fishing experience in Wyoming. The highlight of that experience was a twenty-minute battle with what I assumed to be a monster trout. When I finally reeled in the fish I was astonished to find a mere six-inch, but extremely beautiful trout. The size of the fish didn’t matter, I was hooked! (Pun intended) I vowed that day to buy my own fly-fishing kit as soon as I returned home.
That vow was quickly broken when I learned how much a decent traditional fly-fishing kit cost. Indeed, a walk down the fishing gear isle in your local sporting goods store can leave you a bit discouraged and perhaps even sworn off to the pursuit of fishing. Sure you can find inexpensive fly rods and other more standard equipment for cheap, but chances are they won’t last very long. I pretty much resided myself to being an occasional fisherman, one who would go with friends, provided they had an extra rod and tackle. That was until I came across an article on Tenkara fishing.
Tenkara fishing is over 200 years old and has its origins in Japan. It is perhaps the most basic method of fishing there is. All you really need for Tenkara fishing is a pole, a line, and a fly, that’s it! There is no reel to contend with, nor the endless variety of weights, bobbers, and lures of more modern fishing. After reading that first article I started searching the Internet for all things Tenkara. The more I read, the more intrigued I became.
Tenkara fishing appealed to me on many levels. For one, the simplicity of the gear and the activity itself made me an instant fan. The Tenkara rods I viewed looked easy to set up and the actual fishing looked virtually effortless. That said, this is still fly fishing and that means there are techniques to be learned and research to be done regarding the types of flies to be used and the species of fish that you are pursuing. As a former classroom teacher and environmental educator, that really appealed to me. What better way to learn about the health of a watery habitat and surrounding ecosystem? (Science teachers take note! Your future pastime can become your future lesson plans. Macroinvertebrates, food chains, food webs, water quality testing, you name it, fly fishing can become your guide.)
I was also drawn to the packability of Tenkara. Going backpacking and want to check out a fishing hole while you are out there, easy! Some trail runners are even taking their Tenkara rods with them on their excursions. Tenkara fishing just looked like the most fun and relaxing activity to connect me to water. (Incidentally, a growing body of research indicates that proximity to water can work wonders on our overtaxed nervous system, racing minds, and improve our overall wellbeing )
Tenkara fishing really hooked me! My next step was to find the right product to launch my adventure. After considerable research I zeroed in on the Driggs Idaho based Tenkara Rod Company. Their YouTube videos, great reviews and affordability of products convinced me that they were the ones to launch me into this new adventure. In a few short weeks I will report back to you on how my Tenkara journey is going. I am really excited!
Thank you for reading and for sharing. Please comment below if you have any experience with Tenkara fishing or if you have any thoughts on what you read. Happy Fishing!