Learning

The Ponderings of a Wandering Fly Fisher

by Rebecca on January 9, 2010

in Fly Fishing

The Mini Refresher: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. 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.” (first time I ever went fly fishing)

The Question:  “How different do you think you are now from the person you described then? Are you performing art yet?” asked in the comments by Clif  who writes the blog LunkerHunt

The Answer: Code…..the secret, that elusive feeling I wanted so badly all those years ago has indeed settled comfortably into my way of life. What I didn’t realize back then was that fly fishing and all it’s possible meanings is about individual definition rather than a general consensus.

I may be a member of the ‘club’ now, but my reasons, my observations, my levels of accompliment are seperate from the whole. It took time, but I eventually understood that I was writing my own code, creating my own secrets.

I spent the first few years of my learning phase safely tucked in my Fly Fishing Mentors creel. Through him, I learned the basic lessons, the little details that have become my second nature on the water. The days of casting with a precursery prayer of hope or the exclamation of thankfulness at the end of a successful cast was replaced with that involuntary action I coveted the first time.

At this point in my life, I will say~ I catch fish, I don’t struggle with casting or presentation. I can match the hatches adequetely, read water and all the subtitles it offers. I may even know a thing or two about fish. I have no doubt there is much more to learn….

As for how ‘good’ of a fly fisherman I am, honestly, I have no idea. Now that I think about it, I guess the judgement of how good a fisherman is lands squarely in the net of other people to decide. I haven’t physically fished with anyone who knows more about fly fishing than me in years so I haven’t exactly gotten any feedback….The truth is, when the river that my Fly Fishing Mentor and I waded together split into seperate channels, I entered my years of solitary wandering and learning.

When I wrote that final paragraph about my first time, I was eager to be an accepted member of an illusionary club I had created in my mind. Today I look back and admit that in reality, I choose a fly fishing path that was centered around being alone without ever feeling lonely. All these years, the river has been my companion, my comfort and the fly fishing is the thread that bound me there.

Which brings me to current days and this website I’ve created. Essentially it’s the biggest change of fishing direction I’ve taken in the last several years. By starting this writing venture and reaching out to other fisherman, I’ve finally made the first steps in joining a sense of community, aka, the Club.  My goal this year, beyond being nicer to whitefish, is to enhance my fly fishing experiences by sharing them with others, both on the rivers and off. 

And finally, if there is one claim I’m willing to make, it’s this…. I do consider myself a fly fisherman now. 

Rebecca

Amendment: as pointed out by Austin of the blog, 365 flyfish, I will also be entering the beginning stages (again) of fly tying this year. I have vise, feathers and I’m totally afraid to use them…….

(the tone of this entry is the viable risk one takes when self reflecting the personal evolution of their fly fishing. It can quickly vear down the drain of sentimental navel gazing)

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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

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My Fly Fishing Mentor: Casting an Idea

by Rebecca on November 18, 2009

in Fly Fishing

~Drifting~

~Drifting~

One of my favorite things to ask people I come across that either fish or fly fish is who was the person in their life that planted the idea or introduced them into the world of Fish. As I wrote recently, My Dad was my first Mentor in Fishing.

Before fly fishing, I was a spinning reel girl, limited to fishing lures and salmon eggs. I was never, ever, a worm using girl because (go ahead and laugh but this is my one and only fear in life) I always harbored and still do, an irrational and extremely serious phobia of worms (**double shudder** for even mentioning them) ……..done laughing yet? Ok, good. Anyway, as I was saying, I very much considered myself a fishing gal who used a tackle box, the words, “Fishing Pole”  and felt exceptionally loyal to my #2 mepps.

When I first met my Fly Fishing Mentor I already knew he was into fishing– thats what happens when a middle person says, “you should meet so & so, they fish like you do” and vice versa– so I was poised and ready to impress him with my already established fishing addiction. He would probably argue with my rendition of this moment because his memory is solid and mine leans more to blank spots and fanciful interpretations, but no matter which version I go with, the insult remains the same.

I said, “I love to fish”
He said, “What type of fishing do you do?”
I said, “Mostly trout”
He said, “No, with what do you fish?”
I said, “My fishing pole, lures, salmon eggs, the normal.”
He said, “Ohh…if you call that, fishing….well when you’re ready to try Fly Fishing, let me know…”

Insulted! So I huffed and puffed and decided instantly that he was a fly fishing snob from the S.F. of the Ass River. He knew that he had insulted me, and when we talked about it later, he admitted that’s exactly what he intended to do…just like a fisherman, he baited me…he threw a insult fly and I grabbed the barbed hook in my mouth like an eager little fish. I did give a good fight, I demanded to know why his fishing was more profound and meaningful than my fishing and as he explained, I grew enthralled, and jealous, and probably drooled with envy as well.

By the time he had put me through his premeditated form of fly fishing conversion I was ready to devote myself to a new religion. My first lesson came in speech pattern. I was immediately banned from saying “fishing pole” ever again.

I had two obstacles to overcome. First, my Fly Fishing Mentor lived in Colorado (I’m in Idaho) and two, I didn’t have a Fly Rod. While I toiled and slaved to save for a Fly Rod, my Mentor started instructions from afar. I became a daily student of fly fishing long before I held a fly rod in my hot little hands.

When I finally had my fly rod, I was on my own, but full of information and armed with a small box of hand tied flies my Mentor had sent me in preparation for my maiden voyage. I wish I could say that first trip was remarkable, it wasn’t, but it produced 2 fish by pure accident and one hook embedded in my forehead……so at least it was memorable.

Maddison River

Blinded but grinning on the Madison River

I struggled for a month on my own until I was finally able to meet with my Mentor for a hands on course in fly fishing. Our first rendezvous spoiled me rotten because it was in Montana and Yellowstone Park, but it wasn’t without challenges. Two weeks before our scheduled trip I thought I’d be cute while rock climbing and took a fall that resulted in one broken ankle and a robot boot to make life interesting. I didn’t let it slow me down for a second and simply strapped my boot over my waders. In the course of several days my Mentor showed me everything I had been doing wrong, his secrets, and the weight of a noteworthy fish on my line. I fell in love with many things during those defining days and still look back at it as one of my favorite times in life.

After that weekend my Mentor and I got together to fish as often as possible. His guidance was invaluable to my learning and because of him I’ve experienced fishing in the way I had dreamed about when I was a little girl watching those elusive fly fishing men perform their magical art across the water. My gratitude today is as strong as it felt the first weekend we cut the air with our fly lines. Thank you T- for the insult that got my attention and for giving me a lifetime gift~

Rebecca

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