Catching fun, releasing stress

A full moon lights the lake while thousands of large mayflies hatch on the surface of a lake Michigan’s Sylvania Wilderness.

Large mouth bass make a sharp, slurping sound as they snap up the flies.

Fly fishermen wading in the water flick their lines, attempting to land where they heard a bass feed.

“You’ve got a huge fish fight with the moon shining on the water,” said Chris Confer, the director of Career Development and avid fisherman.

Confer’s experience in the Sylvania Wilderness is one of many fishing trips he has made with family and friends since he first learned how to fish as a child.

He said he first learned to his off of a dock using a simple cane pole with his grandparents in the summer.

As he grew older, fishing became a way for him to connect with his father and brother on weeklong trips to fish on Lake Michigan and other lakes in Mich.

While Confer had fished his entire life, he was not introduced to fly fishing until he met his future wife Michelle’s family for the first time.

“Her father decided I needed to learn to fly fish if I was going to be his son-in-law,” said Confer.

Confer was quickly converted from fishing with a bobber and spinner reel to the fly rod.

On his next fishing trip with his father and brother, he introduced them to fly fishing as well.

“We discovered you can catch even more with a fly rod and that’s when I converted my brother,” said Confer.

He and his wife, along with both of their families, hope to pass on the love of fishing to his daughter Caroline.

One of his daughter’s presents at her baby shower was a light pink child’s fishing rod from Confer’s father.

Confer said one of the things he loves about fly fishing is trying to find out what the fish are biting and where they are swimming.

“There is a ton of science with it,” said Confer.

Even the exact motion and timing of each cast is a mix of science and art as the fisherman attempts to correctly mirror the real flies fish are eating.

This combination of science and art is also seen in fly tying.

It is important to correctly tie the flies to imitate the size, coloring and proportions of the actual bug it is copied from.

The actual knots and details of the fly must be done with extreme care because they must be very small, very precise and resistant to wear from being whipped over the fisher’s head then plopped into the water, only to go through the process again if a fish doesn’t take the bait.

While this precision and skill is a huge draw for Confer, the fellowship with God and with others is much more important to him.

“I love being out in God’s creation,” said Confer, “That is definitely when I connect with God.”

Confer has visited many beautiful places on his fishing trips, including rivers and lakes in Michigan, West Virginia and Colorado among others.

This summer he and his wife will get to go bone fishing near Cozumel during a cruise they taking on for their 10 anniversary.

The relationships with his fellow fishermen Confer is able to build with the family members and friends he goes fishing with is also important.

“My heart for it is to just get to know people on a deeper level,” said Confer.

He has gone fishing with multiple JBU students and faculty and he loves to take people out fishing.

Confer suggests beginner fishers to start simple at easy, nearby locations like City Lake and the creek behind the rugby pitch near the water fountain.

“Try it at least once and go with someone who knows what they are doing,” said Confer.