Each of us have different and unique reasons for our initial involvement in Fly Fishing – some of us were “A River Runs Through It” wannabe’s. Some of us grew up not knowing anything different as generations of Fly Fishermen proceeded us and passed along their passion and knowledge in a right of passage. Many of us were at one time or another the bait guy or gear guy that are so often ridiculed and looked down upon – and we stumbled into the world of Fly because it looked “cool”. Though the roots of our beginnings may be infinitely different and unique – at some point or another an epiphany will or has already occurred, and what it truly is that keeps us coming back to the water will be realized.
In the days where instant gratification and social media are dominating influences, I fear the perception of the Fly Fishing world is being grossly misrepresented. Lost in the 1000’s of status updates, tweets, and pictures is the true allure of the sport – the overwhelming sense of connection to something greater than ourselves. This spiritual existence has quickly been replaced by measurements or numbers. There is more public rallying around a guy with out-stretched arms attempting to enhance every inch of the fish for the camera, than there is support for a guy that has his arm around his father holding onto a 8″ brook trout.
Also, sadly there is often a strong level of guilt associated with returning home from the river, without some sort of bounty to show for your efforts. This fuels a flow of justifications such as “Lost a giant today” or “Forgot my camera, should have seen the hog I caught” or …..well…..you get it.
3 days stand out most in my mind when I think back to the experiences I’ve had on the water – and oddly all 3 of them don’t include any fish. I spent a day with Dan trudging through 3′ of snow on the Pere Marquette river on a wintery day with the freshest coat of snow I’ve ever seen encasing everything. The second, was with Jeff and Rich riding out a giant thunderstorm that rolled through Grand Traverse Bay, ruining all hope of actually fishing. And lastly (and probably most influential) was with my father, at a very young age camping and dipping flies into tiny nooks and crannies of the Jordan River, to this day I can still recall the smell of the cedar lined banks.
I challenge each of you this year to remember what Fly Fishing is really about, and spend as much time “rah-rahing” someone’s experience as you do pumping up someone’s ego that is holding a giant fish. Make an effort to remember the true spirit of the sport isn’t to create status segregation amongst participants and feed egos – it is to enjoy the encompassing experience that results from the act of Fly Fishing.