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


Murder of a Fly Rod: Till Death Did Us Part

by Rebecca on November 13, 2009

in Fly Fishing

~Reds Final Fish, captured Forever in Picture and Thought~

~Reds Final Fish, captured Forever in Picture and Thought~

My first Fly Rod was a Redington Redstart. I purchased it when I was in my twenties and at the time I was about as broke as a twenty year old could be. I knew I wanted to fly fish, I knew I didn’t want to buy my fly rod from K-mart and my soon to be full time Fly Fishing mentor suggested that if I could come up 300 dollars, I could buy a package deal and be off to a great start. My goal took awhile, a lot of pennies saved, a mini-car wreck with a $240 dollar pain and suffering check (yay me!) and I was finally able to purchase Red, my new best friend.

A full time relationship blossomed. There should have been a commitment ceremony to symbolize the love, trust and monogamous relationship that formed between Red and I. An ordained Entomologist could have wrapped leader around my hand and the cork of my Red and pronounced us, ’till death do you part.”

Like any true relationship, Red and I were put to the test occasionally. A 7 year inch almost ruined our relationship when my eyes wandered to the sleek new designs of younger, more flexible models. I learned it was safer to stay out of the red light district, specifically, the ”Fly Shop Brothel” and ignore the sexy options with first names like Sage and Loomis. Each time I put myself in front of the almighty temptation–rows and rows of new fancy fly rods,  I walked away a one rod loyaltist rather then succumbing to the allure of fly rod polygamy.

I also wasn’t into swinging with my Red. For the most part, but not always, I kept Red out of affairs and trists, with other hands. But swinging seemed the unavoidable pitfall of fishing with others. It would always start out innocent enough, someone would ask to ‘give ‘er a try’ and if I couldn’t come up with a dire enough reason to say no, I would reluctantly relinquish my tight hold and pass Red off with a Mama Bear list of cautions and warnings.

If life was fair and just, I would have been the one to eventually kill old Red, but life generally doesn’t subscribe to the fair philosophy. Robert, Russ and I traveled to No’tellum creek in Wyoming for a weekend of fish frolicking fun. They with their spinning rods, me with reliable Fly Flinging Red. The first morning I was up and on the fish. Big Fish. Beautiful Fish. I couldn’t not catch a fish it was so good. Red and I were beyond thrilled and even delighted in the jealous spinning rod eyes trained on our good fortune.  

Hat and sunscreen, I had forgotten both and the sun was blazing down on my skin. I told myself, “One more fish and then you have to run to town, the fish can live without you for 30 minutes.” So I caught that one more fish, and in hindsight, I thank the river gawds I asked Robert to take a picture of the beauty. As I told the boyz I was running to town, one them, who shall remain un-named spoke up, “Hey, if you’re running to town, can I use your fly rod while you’re gone?” Gasp. Double Gasp. Alone I thought? Without my supervision?

But since I didn’t think, “Hell no, old Red needs to rest up, it’s had a strenuous morning” would pacify the eager (jealous) guy, I buckled under the pressure. I gave my normal run down of instructions, rules & regulations and abandoned Red for 30 minutes.

Him: I broke your fly rod.
Me….Stunned silence… Blink, Blink…Blink…. 

Until that point, I’d always wondered how a person “snaps’ or goes to the lands of lala in the blink of an eye. The defining catalyst that spirals a person into a moment that would blacken the sky and sound would suck into a vortex of silence where all sense of reality evaporates. I know that place now, sat right down in the lap of crazed devastation. I didn’t commit murder which seemed a reasonable retaliation for such an atrocious crime, instead I gathered up Red in my arms, and walked to a serene place next to the river to (curse the day the fly rod murderer was born) soothe my broken heart.

I had been fishing with Red for over 12 years without so much as a eyelet guide breaking and in the absence of 30 minutes, Red was in pieces. I’m quite certain the story the boyz offered up was intended to paint a good light on Reds final moments, but it sounded rather fishy. Supposedly a huge fish was on the line, so ginormous that the strain didn’t break the line, oh no, instead the raw power of that fish magically transferred into my Red and snap, snap, a two piece became a four piece…..Although I would like to imagine Reds last hoorah was fighting a fish, I’m still not buying it.

For almost two years now I’ve felt like a fly rod widow. At first I thought I’d never be able to see another fly rod without thinking only of Red, but as time eased the pain I started dating again. My first purchase was another Redington. I imagine I did that because there was comfort in the name, but I’ve used it, a lot, and it still doesn’t feel the same. My next dating came in the form of a Sage rod. It’s fine as well, does the job and all that, but it still doesn’t feel like commitment time.

Maybe I’ll never commit to another fly rod again the way I did with Red. Maybe each fly fisherman only gets one true love and after that love is broken all fly rods will simply be stand ins…just fly rods. Only time will tell……….



The Trusted Hip Waders

~The Trusted Hip Waders~

Ask a thousand people how they want to die and 995 people will say, “peacefully in my sleep” as the preferred method of departure. From that predictable point the various ways one can bite the bullet are endless. Each individual harbors personal death preferences and for me, death by drowning is extremely low on my desired ways of walking toward the light.

When I first started fly fishing I wore the full blown chest waders because that’s what you do when you become a fly fisher-er-man-woman-whatever. Despite the fact a touch of girly came out in me and I thought those overall waders made my ass look like the state of Texas, I did love the river freedoms they afforded. I went from a dirt bank dweller to a water rat with no boundaries.

The problem, for me, or maybe I should label it for what it was—the temptation—with chest waders was the ability to wade out to that one spot. You know the one, that if you can just get to there you can roll cast back to the bank, around the hanging tree and to that one rising trout. I’m sure this is a me thing and others don’t suffer from such temptations. The sort of fishing weakness that leaves a good set of common sense guidelines back at the truck.  It didn’t take long to figure out I wasn’t Jesus and couldn’t actually defy water, command water, and I certainly couldn’t walk on water.

I discovered that unlike my Fly Fishing Mentor or other more stout guys around, weighing in at a buck 35 (that’s right, I wrote my weight, I’m also tall, but weight is the only measurements I’m parting with today) doesn’t exactly weigh me down like everyone else if there’s any sort of current. I’m sure there’s some physics involved here, a mathematical formula that would explain why Rebecca + River divided by Wade Depth x Current=Certain Death Swirl.

I had my fair share of ‘oh shit, I’m gonna die’  moments. It didn’t take that long to put two and two together to realize my personal red zone. The threshold between safety and danger Will Robinson !! was my hip area. I can wade all day long with water swooshing between my legs, but take those one or two temptation steps into a current that puts my hips under water and it’s like a freight train pushing against me and underwater arms pulling me out for a lets talk about dead meeting.

The breaking point was on the S.F. of the Boise River. A beautiful June afternoon when the river was still high ( I know! I know! No lectures nessassary, I swear, I learned my lesson) and the fish were rising all around me. Temptation was doing a good job of luring me into the red zone or maybe it wasn’t temptation that time. I think I’d rather blame the trout that was rising behind a rock and I couldn’t get a good drift into his honey hole. I blame the fish (written like a true addict, push blame) for those few extra steps that would have lined my fly up just right. Two extra steps, freight train pushing against my stomach and whooosh…..sucked out into the current and down the river.

Obviously I lived, but not without getting spit back out on the wrong side of the river, drenched, frozen, exhausted, stranded and hyperventilating like a fish tossed on the riverbank. Two hours. Two long ass hours I laid on the other side of the river sunning myself and pondering the meaning of life. Rescue came in the form of two Fly guys, one black lab and a drift boat. Mortification would be an understatement here, but I took the safe passage, quietly said my grateful Thank You and went home.

The next day I did what anyone who has a second chance at life should do. I admitted my weaknesses in the face of temptation, embraced my responsibility and made the step to remove the catalyst of my downfall. If you’re an alcoholic, you remove the booze, if you’re a smoker, you throw away the cigarettes, if you’re a gambler you stay away from casinos. I was consistantly guilty of  stepping one foot too far while wading, so I threw away the chest waders and purchased a set of hip waders. I call that restriction by choice removal.

Step 1)  
My name is Rebecca and I am weak,
full of temptations and a textbook 
addict in the face of Trout pursuit.

P.S. I have not participated in a single death swirl since my hip wader purchase. When I’m not wearing waders, I adhere to a strict 4 inches above the knee rule. Clearly I’m back in the ‘die peacefully in my sleep’ fold.


Fishing Mentors: My Dad Inspired Me

by Rebecca on October 26, 2009

in Fly Fishing

~ Mini Rebecca, Fishing addict in Training~

~ Mini Rebecca, Fishing addict in Training~

There are two people I can credit with mentoring my fishing evolution.

Today’s entry is about my first mentor. I credit my own Father with introducing me to the Great Outdoors and specifically, fishing. He christened me when I was a 6 week old baby with a Mepps Treble hook to the forehead and I consider that moment… natural selection. If we observe destiny throughout all the ages, a good fable starts with a meaningful baby scar.

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t fishing, ever. My earliest memories are all about camping and fishing. Fishing and camping. I’m sure my family did things during the week like work, school, housework and regular life, but my memories are stuffed full of the best parts, our weekends away. We spent almost every weekend away….

I didn’t start fly fishing until my mid-twenties, so back then life was all about drifting a smelly salmon egg down a river current or tossing my favorite fish slayer, the Mepps #2 spinner, across lakes, rivers and the occasional dredge pond. Much to my Fathers dismay, I had a huge (read serious irrational phobia) to worms, so although I wasn’t fly fishing yet, I was already leaning heavily on a dependency of artificial lures.

It was my Dad who showed me how to read a river as a book full of hints and clues. He showed me that a deep calm hole wasn’t the only place to discover fish and that little ripples and behind certain rocks held some of the best fish. He taught me patience and demonstrated the tenacity needed for a day when the fish were being difficult. He also made fishing fun by offering all the kids a quarter for the first fish, the biggest fish etc….thus sending all of us little ones out onto the waters, competition style, with a quest to WIN.

Dad and I, S. F. of the Boise River

~Dad and I Flyfishing~

What I didn’t realize back then (and to type ‘back then’ puts the cringe in the truth of getting old enough to type ‘back then’) is that my Father was giving me a huge gift by including me in everything that he loved. He could have easily left me home while he went off fishing and hunting to enjoy some alone time, away from wife and kids– guy time–but instead he always asked if I wanted to come…and I always did.

Turn about is fair play and I’m happy to say a time came in my life when I had morphed from a fishing gal into a fly fishing gal and I was able to show my Mentor Father how to do something new. Fly fishing.

To my Dad, to all the Dads who pass on alone guy time to take their little ones fishing, hiking, camping, hunting, anything….. Thank you for showing the little ones the beauty of the outdoors. It really is a priceless gift that can last a lifetime.



Sturgeon Fishing, Mental Tenacity Required

October 21, 2009

I know what people think when I tell them I live in Idaho. Visions of potato farms and cow tipping swirl in a cloud of presumption above their heads. Outsider minds will probably throw in a four door diesel truck with a large rifle duct tapped to the back window along with a ‘I heart [...]

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