Some of my best lessons have not been inside classrooms. My teachers were not human. Sure, humans were involved but only as vessels to transport the knowledge. My best teacher is The Outdoors.
I owe a lot of what I have learned about the world and myself to fly fishing. I have been taught patience, culture, peace, and kindness like no other. This community is rare and valuable. I have not yet come across people who have the same drive to enjoy the resources and preserve them at the same time. Fly fishing is driven by conservationists, artists, athletes, role models, and innovators that want to give back to the water as much as they use it. I enjoy the sport of fly fishing because there exists a ground level bond across this community that does not discriminate. Fly fishing has no language, color, location, skill level, or buy in. As long as you are willing and able to get out there, you are welcomed with open arms of the sea and all those who drink from it.
What keeps me coming back to this sport is only minorly because of the fish. It is the community that keeps me so alive and so eager to learn more. I was introduced to fly fishing because of a kind friend who was willing to teach me what he knew over many afternoons of cold beer and conversations. I used to be intimidated by fly fishermen. An unexplainable swagger seemed to follow each one that I couldn’t describe or place. Something unattainable. Something carefree. Something that I wanted. I was scared to call myself a fly-fisherman, let alone a fly-fisherwoman. The more time I spend connecting with other people in this sport I learn that everyone was a beginner at some point.
If someone is not willing to talk to you about the nitty gritty, then they really aren’t a reflection of what this community is all about. What’s great about fly fishing is that you can only get better. Everyone starts out awkwardly throwing line about getting stuck in trees, but with practice, it becomes a dance between the angler and the fly line (but I cannot promise the getting stuck in trees really to ever go away). But the most valuable thing that I have obtained from fly fishing is that I have met some incredible people because of this sport.
I look up to a lot of people because of the impact they have created. Every guide, friend, mentor, and peer has played a role in the influence that fly fishing has had on me. People that had the compassion to help me along the way, give me insight to things they had already learned, and welcomed me into this community. Hearing and sharing stories only encourages me and excites me more to stay involved in the community and sport of fly fishing.
I am always searching for golden nuggets of insight to make myself 1% better everyday. All of this only makes me more on fire to share what I know with others and keep learning more.I believe that there is room for everyone in fly fishing. Anyone who is eager or interested has a fighting chance of becoming healthily addicted to this sport. It is the community, skills, experiences, and people that become so encapsulating. I know that I have been captured – hook, line, and sinker.
All I hope is that this generation will cultivate the appreciation and care that this sport requires for it to be everlasting. Just like anything in this world, there is progression and regression. If we want to continue fishing our bucket lists and chasing world records, we must protect the fisheries we seek. Not only must we practice conservation ourselves, we must teach others who use these fisheries and the people who come after us. The good thing is that a lot of us already do. And to me, that is beautiful.
I have seen fly fishing reach across borders: geographical and lingual. There are guides hidden in every corner of the earth that have known fly fishing all their lives. They are the most humble and happy people. I believe that the legends and superstars of fly fishing are not the ones with the most Instagram followers, but are these individuals. And if you are lucky enough to even meet one of them, them you have had the privilege of seeing the Eighth Wonder of the World. Fly fishing can make friends out of people you never imagined meeting, or connecting with. To me, it is best compared to a circle: it has no beginning and no end and it is always in motion. This is not just a sport. It is an art form. It is a way of life.