Fly Fishing Starts with a Humble Beginning

by Rebecca on January 2, 2010

in Fly Fishing

~If you look really close, there is a fish in this picture~

~If you look really closely, you will indeed see a fish in this picture~

While a pang of New Year nostalgia encompassed my thoughts yesterday, I sifted back through my old writings in an effort to reconnect with my former self. I came across a piece of paper I wrote describing my first outing with a fly rod that I thought I would share today.

The way I see it, the beginning can be just as important as the history inbetween and someday, another person will tell my ending…….

Many, many Moons ago……..


I wish~ I could claim that my first fly fishing trip was nothing but skillful casts of fly line and constant hook sets that brought beautiful trout to the waters at my feet.

I wish I could~ However, truth be told, the entire experience was anything but encouraging, inspiring or resembling the beauty I had always coveted in other fly fisherman.

I’ve noticed in Life~ With any episode you would prefer to forget, you can count on one good friend to bear witness so that you can never erase it. Bob Estep was with me on this first fly fishing expedition which is ironic because he was with me when I shot my first elk. (Personally, I’d like both experiences to hide in the back closet of my firsts that didn’t go so well, but he’s not one to forget anything) On the river he snapped pictures, he laughed at me and he encouraged me to keep trying. He even climbed trees to retrieve my precious few flies that had gone completely out of my control.

I caught~ I caught rocks, trees, and the bushes. I also hooked my forehead, the back of my neck, my legs and even the poor innocent bystander, Bob.   The majority of the time my fly line was pooled on the ground or the water in front of me while I stared in confusion as to why I couldn’t glide my line through the air like a master of the fly fishing world.

I murdered a fish~ There’s no getting around this fact. Even if Bob hadn’t been there to witness such an event, I doubt I could refurbish my memories into something more appealing. My first fish on a fly rod, the one that I must claim and live with for the rest of my fly fishing days was a 3 inch fingerling that I yanked so hard out of the water with uncontained exuberation that it went flying like a silver bullet through the air and I had to duck to prevent a mild concussion. That poor little fish landed with a bounce 15 feet up the bank in the rocks. May it rest in peace…….

I am mortified~ Still………..I caught a second fish. Undeniably an accidental fish. With 10 yards of pooled fly line tangled up in the water in front of me, a little 8 inch trout took mercy, grabbed my drowned fly and started to straighten out my line through the water. Even in the face of huge optimism I doubt I could count this as a viable catch.

I won’t give up~ Not for a single moment. I know in my heart fly fishing is something I can learn in a lifetime. There’s a secret out there, a code I know nothing about–yet. My disastrous and trying first time taught me several lessons, but as I write this, the one I’ll focus on is….. fly fishing is much more than simply catching a fish. Someday I’ll get to the point when I can slice a line through the air as quietly and involuntary as the act of breathing. Someday I will perform art on the riverbanks.

Someday, I will call myself a fly fisherman.


Present day~ As my feet are firmly planted in 2010, I still look forward to a lifetime of learning the secrets and practicing the art of fly fishing………

Rebecca Anne


{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

IndigoNo Gravatar January 2, 2010 at 9:14 pm

Someday I think you’ll write a grand novel about the experience. The female version of ‘A River Runs Through It’. Without a doubt the passion and exuberance overflow in the art of fly fishing and writing for you.

May love and beauty follow you into this brand new decade dear friend. (Hugs)Indigo


RebeccaNo Gravatar January 2, 2010 at 9:42 pm

Thank you Indigo!
Now you have me thinking……..the female version of ‘A River Runs Through it’…….time will tell, time will tell……


ClifNo Gravatar January 2, 2010 at 9:20 pm

How different do you think you are now from the person you described then? Are you performing art yet?

I too have a crumby first fish on the fly. I even have a picture of it around here somewhere….


RebeccaNo Gravatar January 2, 2010 at 9:44 pm

Thats a good question and an idea for a new entry here. Soon to come, a blog entry about just that.

Now, I told my first fish story, the disaster that it was, will you share yours? I’ll be watching for it on your blog~ With picture!


ClifNo Gravatar January 2, 2010 at 11:26 pm

I think you hinted at it with your last line, but I’ll have to wait and see what your thoughts are.

Like you, I happen to have fine documentation for my first fish caught with a fly. You won’t have to watch for it long…it’s already there.

I dug through my archive and found it here. You’ll find writing not quite as poetic, but the fish equally impressive.

(hope that link works…)


WolfyNo Gravatar January 2, 2010 at 9:48 pm

It’s very intresting to put a perspective on the “NOW” by re-reading old writings. I think your writing style, even in your first piece, foreshadowed the well written pieces you produce now.

Nice post and nice work



KirkNo Gravatar January 2, 2010 at 11:47 pm

Rebecca, your post made me think…At first we just fish. As we become smitten with the art of fly fishing we may pour ourselves into the study insects and fish behavior. We may collect an arsenal of rods, reels and lines for every possible scenario. We are likely to arm ourselves with stream thermometers, tippets in every imaginable size, and countless other gizmos intended to make us more effective anglers. Some of us may acquire an endless supply of materials used to tie an equally endless assortment of flies: streamers, soft hackles, nymphs, dries and everything in between. We probably spend hours striving to master a dazzling array of intricate casts. Then, eventually, we just fish.

Thanks for the thought provocation!


mizlan malaysia snakehead hunterNo Gravatar January 2, 2010 at 11:57 pm

hi..i’m mizlan from malaysia..i’m snakehead hunter…love baitcasting, trekking…hope be your friend!


Kentucky JimNo Gravatar January 3, 2010 at 12:07 am

I enjoyed this read, Rebecca. Thanks for sharing it. I’ve reached an age where I just fish. I have all the stuff, and now find that I’m envious of the trout bum who just fishes…and catches fish! But I’ve studied casting for some time. Some say I’m good, but the masters won’t give me a break. They don’t think so. Everything is relative, and I try to remember what I’m doing it for. For me, a cast well made on the river is almost, I said almost, as fun as the take, the fight and the netting of the fish.

Norman McClean’s story is about tragedy as much as it is about fly fishing. I hope your book doesn’t need the tragedy to counterpoint the joy that is fishing.


AustinNo Gravatar January 3, 2010 at 9:51 pm

My first trout trip went something to that same effect. I took a fly fishing class in college and managed to bury a #8 fly deep into my upper arm while learning to roll-cast. I was soon made an object lesson on how to remove a hook. A couple of days later, I was called out in front of the entire class to fish a pocket of water. Saying my prayers I stripped line and cast a #14 Elk Hair Caddis. A small fingerling took the fly and a bullet fish came rocketing towards my head as I set the hook too hard. A fish nonetheless. That was in the Spring of 2000.


MelNo Gravatar January 3, 2010 at 9:53 pm

Thanks for sharing with us all such moment from deep within your soul. Your fine job of writing took me back to my first fish on a fly. What an embarrassment it was for me! Someday when we stand shoulder to shoulder and chase a trout, you might get me to tell you all about it.


Bob EstepNo Gravatar January 3, 2010 at 10:02 pm

Those were some great times. Next up you should show that video of the first elk kill posted on here


shannonNo Gravatar January 4, 2010 at 10:10 pm

I knew that first fly fishing experience would be so powerful for me that I intentionally put it off for nearly two decades … and I am making up for a lot of lost time. Down here, the typical first fish on fly is a perch, and that’s what it was for me. Shannon


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