After Jake wrote about the way we are stewards(Why Can’t We All Just Get Along) of our sport on the water and warned us about the negative impact that “not so friendly” people can have towards others my mind got to thinking about the special experiences I’ve had on the water over the years as a result of good people sharing with me (or me with them). I have matured as a human and a fly fisherman so my priorities have changed. There still are times where I’m out to catch all the fish and my focus settles almost exclusively on the fish. As I’ve matured my desires are much more focused on the experience, nature (or urban jungle), the relationships, and learning something new about fish/myself/or discovering solutions to the worlds problems.
Some of the most amazing experiences have come as a result of sharing. I’d like to highlight a couple of experiences that shed light on this in my life:
As many of you likely know, I live in a place filled with many great trout (and other species) fisheries. In this story I was fishing on a well known river. Don’t worry, I’m not sharing a hidden body of water on the interwebs – there is enough Gortex on that river during any hatch of the year to wrap around the world at least 42 times (I’m kidding). This particular day my dad and I were fishing a stretch of water waiting for a friend to show up. We caught plenty of fish and were having a great time during one of those “epic” hatches. There were so many big green drakes on the water that unless the fly drifted right to the fish they weren’t going to move to eat. I was fishing to a particularly picky trout who was hanging out in a funky patch of water where no matter what I did I was having my fly drift to far away from the fish to get it to come up and take my fly At this moment I realized someone was behind me watching me fish. It was our friend. He came up and said, “Hey, if you wade upstream another 10 feet and cast and hit the inside of that seam your flies going drift to that fish!” I laughed, moved up stream, laid out a cast right to where he had said, my fly slowly drifted downstream into the open and waiting mouth of a hungry trout. It was not the biggest brown, but it was one worth remembering. With laughter and appreciation towards this friend, I stepped out of the hole, and proceeded to watch this him catch a handful of fish in just as many casts.
Some of you may remember me writing a few years back about my first carp. That moment forever changed me. A generous angler, one who I haven’t had the blessing of fishing with since then, took me under his wing and introduced me to a few special carping places that forever changed me as a fly fisherman. I’ve gotten carp fever and helped share that love with others. If that person hadn’t been so willing to help me out then who knows how much longer, if ever, it would have taken me to get out and catch my first carp. This love of carping has, in my opinion, fostered a completely invigorated and deeper love for all things fly fishing. It’s a love I’ve been blessed to share with family, friends, and social media friends. It’s created a desire to share with those I can. I’ve had chance to share my stories, pictures, and flies with others as I’ve tried to encourage them to take a step outside their normal fly fishing world to try and catch a carp. It’s been an amazing experience!
Speaking of sharing, I wanted to share another story. During a multi day fishing trip with my dad and brother we ran into an awesome guy, I wish I knew his name, we got to chatting and he gave us half a dozen or more caddie pupae to try and as a parting remark he said, “Hey, you should try dead drifting a white streamer through some of these runs.” We exchanged thanks and I decided to tie on a white streamer. I could see a few fish in a run and decided to toss my fly in and dead drift it to see what would happen. My white fly slowly drifted down stream when a shadow engulfed my fly and my line went tight as this fish took off upstream with a jolt! I never would have had that experience without the kindness of that individual.
On that same trip (different day) I had the privilege of sharing a pretty awesome moment with my brother. We had chatted about how difficult a certain stretch of water was and for some reason my brother decided to fish this slow glassy section of river with the hope of catching fish there. In my trips on this river it was few and far between the fish that could be fooled into taking a fly in that stretch. My dad and I were upstream of him and we heard a shout, he had a quality fish hooked and didn’t have a net with him. We rushed down, helped him out and celebrated a super special moment with him catching one of the largest rainbows of his young fishing life. It was a stunningly beautiful rainbow and I loved that he shared that moment of “one upping” and pure joy with us. I was, and am, honored to have been a limited part of that experience.
I wish that I could have time to fish with everyone that I chat with about fishing. I know that many of these people will teach me great things! I’ve had the chance to fish with a few people I’d only previously met via social media. Some of those experiences have created friendships that have become quality relationships in my life and have helped me become both a better angler and a better person. Take a moment and be kind on and off the water when discussing fishing! You never know when you’ll find someone who becomes a real friend, or when you’ll just make a good impression on someone who was having a rough day and needed some fishing therapy.
Fishing is more than just catching fish. I hope y’all can have some great experiences this year on the water!