Fly fishing is just an activity for some. A joyful adventure partaken a few times annually. Others it’s a way to reminisce about childhood, or spend time with loved ones, there are some where fly fishing is just a job.
There are those bums that are always fishing, the young 19-20 year olds fascinated with the life and freedom fly fishing can bring, the big fish chasers, the hooligans riverside, the loud, the quiet, the great, the bad, the low holers, and the old timers they are all out there.
Fly fishing has no rules about who can participate and I always say trout dont care what’s between your legs, or how much money is in your bank account. It’s just a trout, it just wants a good presentation. The river and the trout are the great equalizer. The young kid just learning casting with a shit stick of a 2nd hand rod, cheap reel and line that came on it and a poorly tied leader and knot to completely the wrong fly…that kid can still hook into a fish that would ruin any anglers life…same as the guy upriver in the fancy waders, latest Sage X P Awesome fish catcher 9000 rod, and reel with $120 fly line and hot new fly…fish doesnt care what you’re throwing. Just how well you throw it.
That’s why I love trout fishing. I can still to this day, come out on the Yak and sling a beat up old 6wt streamer pole with some off-hand line someone handed to me, and a hand tied fly and be rewarded with pure wild beauty.
These fish…they still get to me. I see their spots and sides flash in my dreams. I’m starting to dream of the river again. Every night, hearing, seeing, smelling, feeling the river. The secrets it tells me. The trout, whispers of the world below in motion and I, trying to enter it further, with each cast, every mend, each strip, the next drift…taking another step deeper into that world…of trout…wild…natural…and intoxicating.
I’ve missed the river life. I feel like I am two people at times. The husband and dad at home trying to keep myself engaged in the lives I’ve created and the life I’ve built with my family; and the river life. One is always at odds with the other.
I miss my family. Hearing them on the phone, my son being sick hanging at home, I could be there playing video games with him making him feel better. Giving my wife a break as I’m sure shes starting to feel the stress of me being gone as we come up on 3 weeks away. My youngests 5th birthday coming up and celebrating it later so I can work and then rush back for it. The things that I miss and being away do weigh heavy sometimes.
But then there is the river. It calls, like a siren. It’s as if I can’t help myself and am hypnotized by the song the river sings. The other life, the river life, that complete plug in to the natural world, understanding it, interpreting it, becoming so intimate with it that deciphering it becomes routine. I have missed that as well.
The freedom fly fishing brings is hard to put into words. The way it clears the mind, focuses it on the task, tapping into something primal, and the connection between angler and fish…the way it can effect a person. The ability to share that with others through my work is one of the great joy’s of this gig.
Somedays its the fish chasers, the counters, or the mellow dudes, or the first timers, but other times it’s that angler or set of anglers that is looking for that connection. That freedom. Those are some of my most memorable encounters with fish and people.
I don’t care much for people outside of fishing to be honest. I like to keep to myself, and I’m loud and energetic on the river because it is where I feel like I am truly my self. But off river I am much more reserved. I enjoy the solitude of camping and having the quiet. A lot of this job is people well most of it is, so I enjoy the time with less people. I even prefer to not be bothered at camp. But I inevitably get people asking about the RTT or the boat, or why the hell I’m camping in the snow. I shrug it off, I enjoy this life. It’s a little hobo like, but I get to work and make money doing it, and my days in between are filled with becoming more in tune with what the river is doing. Meaning fishing.
I’m good at guiding this river because I take the time to listen. I’ve invested my life into becoming a good guide and the work I put in “fishing” pays dividends for my line of work.
Out here I have one focus, be good at my job so that I can support those at home. While also doing what I love and frankly about the only thing I’m any good at these days. The dedication I have to fly fishing and guiding shows in how my clients continue to come back, the compliments I receive, and how rewarding both personally and professionally fly fishing has become over the years.
There comes a time when you realize you’re a good angler. It’s usually when the hate from your fishing partners is strong. But after a while…you just know you are. I am. The same goes for guiding. The hate comes from other boats but in all reality what really shows that you’re a good guide is your clients. They are the only feedback you need in this gig. Literally nothing else matters except happy clients. And if they keep coming back, you keep putting smiles on the same faces year after year…then you’re a good guide. Clients will tell ya too but after a while…you just know.
This makes fishing both personally and professionally an absolute awesome fest. Fish eat when they should, you land more than before, you get lots of those addicting shots of adrenaline, you start to catch a good number of fish…to the point where all fish no matter the size or the take, is amazing and awe inspiring. The appreciation and admiration for the fish becomes a part of you. The satisfaction of success in oneself in passing the test against the anglers quarry. These things become what you are addicted to and are chasing to fulfill.
Fly fishing just makes you feel good. And I am firm believer in doing things that make you feel good. If you can get paid to make others and yourself feel good in the process then I would say you’re a rich person.