Fly Rod Diplomacy
Posted on 11/21/2022 Evan Swensen
Guns of the Soviet Union, only three miles from Little Diomede Island, Alaska, are aimed at the United States. Siberian-based Russian missiles, 37 miles from St. Lawrence Island, Alaska, point their payload westward toward America. United States Air Force pilots regularly intercept Soviet aircraft flying in American airspace. Guns, planes, and missiles patrol and protect the two countries’ only common border. Communication between governments so strained talk stopped, and deadly defense took over, leaving two superpowers to bark and threaten each other across a pencil line drawn on a piece of paper.
Several years ago, Trout Unlimited and its counterpart in Russia tried a ground-floor fly rod diplomacy project to break down borders and prejudices and open up common communication. Communication where heads of state met and discussed world matters while fishing for Siberian taimen. They wanted to see border battles fought as a friendly fishing contest, both sides the winner.
I don’t know how the project turned out. However, I did spend a week fishing in Russia with my son Lars and the Russian Fish Commissioner.
Flyrod Diplomacy reminded me that what may work on a national and international scale may work at home. The ancient cliche, “If you hunt with your boy now, you won’t need to be hunting for your boy later,” still is as true today as when first published. The adage applies to fishing, and it applies to girls. It is amazing how the sound exploding from the lungs of a teenage girl can affect a father. In front of the family room television set, it is irritating. On the river bank, exhilarating. Heard above the stereo, exasperating. Under birch trees, next to mountains, at the end of a fishing rod, like the voice of an angel.
A parent communicates when he takes a kid fishing. Such a setting promotes listening by the adult, and the child will talk about almost everything. Music and musicians. Boys and brothers. Sisters, school, and summer. Clothes, cars, crystal, and charge cards.
If you’ve got a youngster you can’t communicate with, take them fishing. Take them one on one. Let them talk. You listen.
Don’t judge or condemn. Just listen.
You’ll be saying more to your child by listening than all the talking, all the shouting, or all the threats you can make or have done. Every week can be “Take a Kid Fishing Week,” and it isn’t necessary to catch fish to have fun. What is important is that you take your kid fishing every chance you get.
If child could meet parent with the common denominator of fishing, barriers, boundaries, and borders would break down.
Communication and understanding would replace mistrust, and differences would disappear.
While the big boys are practicing Flyrod Diplomacy in Russia, try a little on your own. I’ll bet you get more satisfying results. I think it will work with wives, mothers-in-law, fellow employees, and neighbors.