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Learning to Fly
As much about process as production, it’s a sport in which the simple, synchronized movements of rod, fly, and arm create the mystique of fly-fishing.
It was January 1999, and Tim Dysinger was on the water for the first time in more than six months. The previous June, his left hand had been almost severed in a workplace accident. Half a year and a series of surgeries behind him, he loaded up his fly-fishing gear, and he and his six-year-old son headed to the Blue River.
“My son got bored and started running around, playing,” says the Moore resident. “I wasn’t catching much.”
But Dysinger wasn’t worried about that—he was testing his hand. The accident and subsequent reattachment had left him with limited mobility and circulation, and he wanted to know if he’d be able to fish again, tie his handmade flies on the line, pull fishing line in with his left hand while holding the rod in his right.
He cast his line into the air, the delicate fly landing softly on the water, catching the current, and then drifting slowly away. But the trout weren’t going for them.
“My son was running around,” he says. “Then I hear this shout and a splash. After a minute, he comes floating by me on the river. I just reached down and pulled him out of the water and said, ‘Okay, you’re bored; we’re going home.’”
Dysinger hadn’t caught much, but he didn’t care.
“I was happy,” he says. “I found out I could still fly-fish.”
Dysinger’s voice is a low murmur. Ask him about fly-fishing, and he’ll talk for hours about flies, rods, line, water, and fish. He consumes books and magazine articles about the sport, can identify insects on sight, and holds forth for twenty minutes or more on how to tie a fly. Standing waist-deep in the Blue River near Tishomingo, he lists insects that call this water home.
“Out here you’ve got mayflies, caddisflies, midge pupae, hellgrammites—they hatch into dobsonflies, which are these big, hideous flies,” he says. “Trout like them, they have a lot of calories, and they’re slow. Guess what woolly buggers look like. They look like hellgrammites; they look like crawdads; they look like leeches. That’s what makes them so effective: They look like a lot of things.”
He’s speaking a language within a language, a fly-fisherman’s liturgy. For Tim Dysinger, fly-fishing is a religion.
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Get There: Trout streams at the Lower Illinois River and Lower Mountain Fork River are open year-round. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation also stocks trout in several areas, including the Blue River, between November and March. The Wildlife Department and Trout Unlimited sponsor stocked trout ponds seasonally at Dolese Park in Oklahoma City and Veterans Park in Jenks. wildlifedepartment.com. Three Rivers Fly Shop is six miles north of Broken Bow on U.S. Highway 259 outside the south entrance of Beavers Bend State Park. (580) 494-6115 or threeriversflyshop.com. Beavers Bend Fly Shop is on State Highway 259A inside Beavers Bend State Park. (580) 494-6071 or beaversbendflyshop.com.