I’ve been reading the scriptures lately. Nobody lasts for ever and so, conscious of my own mortality, I figure that I ought to check out what the whole deal about heaven is. From what I’ve heard, a life of tedious virtue is required to even meet the entry requirements. They don´t open the door at all if you´ve been fornicating, abusing others, lying, cheating or avoiding the washing up.

Is it worth it? I´m worried that heaven itself may turn out to be a disappointment! Sure, I know the clouds will be comfortable to sit on, and the food is bound to be good but, frankly, I´m not really into choirs. And there´s only so much harp music you can listen to. Sooner or later I know I will get bored and start itching, as I always do, to go fishing.

This is why I am studying the bible at the moment. It is not a pious attempt to find deep meaning in life. I just want to know a little more about heaven. Specifically, I want to know if there are any decent trout streams up there.

Everything on heaven so far has been pretty vague. There are no maps or anything. In fact, I have found no detailed information at all, anywhere. What is to be learned, as in much of the bible, is learned by inference rather than being directly stated. Jesus, it seems, had plenty of time for fishermen since Peter, Andrew, James and John were all commercial fishermen and became his disciples. As it happens, he didn´t actually need any of them because he developed a knack of turning loaves into fishes himself.

Personally, I think God fly fishes for trout. This is not explicitly stated in the bible. The conclusion is reached, instead, by deductive reasoning. Here is the logical argument: If man is made, we are told, in the image of God AND I am a man AND I fly fish for trout then, logically, God MUST fly fish for trout too! This, of course, is great news for us all!

Having convinced myself of the truth of all this, I have taken recently to imagining what heaven is really going to be like. I figure it is a bit like New Zealand, or maybe Alaska (but without the flies). I imagine that beneath the trees there will be sparkling rivers full of trout and salmon.

And this vision of heaven, opening up before me, is becoming ever more explicit. When I close my eyes I see it clearly…. I am standing alone on the bank of beautiful clear-running river. Upstream, a fish is rising regularly. As it intercepts its food it punctures the smooth gliding surface making circles which expand like smoke rings as they are carried towards me. The fish itself is not visible. It is too far to see what he is taking, but the spinners which collect in the swirling eddies at my feet, suggest a good hatch of mayflies is underway. Suddenly I am aware that I am no longer alone! A bearded figure stands beside me. It is God.

“That’s a good fish” he says. “Maybe I can offer you a pattern which works well here!” He rummages in his fly box. “Try this! I tied it myself.” In his hand there is an exquisite pattern. “I tie the hackle using the feathers of angels” he says.

All of a sudden I am filled with trepidation. The fish is beyond my casting range! “Perhaps you might like to cast to this fish yourself?” I suggest. Seeing my self doubt, God gently takes the rod from my hands. “Are you sure?” he asks. “You realize that this is a truly fine fish?” I nod my consent and, sensing my relief, he begins to cast. The rod is a wand in his hand, and the line slices the blue sky. His tight loop slips into a small gap in the branches behind. The colourful birds, perched above, pause in their singing, awestruck by graceful movement they see below. God´s effortless double haul soon has a full 30 yards fly line in the air. With inch-perfect accuracy, he drops the fly twelve inches upstream of the fish at the moment which is perfectly in tune with the rhythm of its feeding. The fly alights like thistledown and, resting on its angel wings, drifts towards the waiting trout.

“These fish are very wary,” God says. “Even a millimeter of drag will result in a refusal.” As he speaks these words, the trout rises and takes his fly. “Strike!” I shout “he’s taken it!” “No” he says. “This is not my fish, my friend, it is yours! I have not disturbed him. Now it is up to you!”

“But I could never make a cast as perfect as the one you just made! It would take me forever to develop technique like that!” My protestation is in vain. His hand is on my shoulder and his dark eyes are looking deeply into my own. “Don´t worry about time, my friend” he says “You’ve got plenty.”

The above article was published in an edited form by Fly Fishing and Fly Tying Monthly, August 2015