Hello, I am a Fly Fishing addict. I recognize its hold over me and just don’t care. I’m going with it! I think I was put on this earth for one reason, that’s to fly fish.
I can remember from even as young as five or six not having the patience to sit still for long except for one thing, that was fishing. I can readily point to the people that got me hooked (no pun intended) and instead of blaming them I thank them. I am almost 50 and when I was little my Mom would read to me all the time. I can’t remember any of the stories, except one nurse rhyme and I can quote it to this day:
“Fishy, fishy in the brook,
Daddy caught him on a hook,
Momma fried him in a pan,
Baby ate him like a man.”
This rhyme has no known author and there are different wordings for it, but I find it strange that this is the only one I remember word for word after all this time. I can remember her reading it to me while trying to rock my two year old whining butt to sleep. I think this must have been some fishing spell she whispered to me that started this whole addiction rolling. Thanks mom!
My Mom and I went often. She’s more of a cane pole and shade spot fishing lady but that’s all right. I learned how to hold my mouth right so the fish would bite. Although, I think that line about ’we have to be quiet or the fish will hear us and swim away’; might have been a ploy to get me to shut up which I never did.
When my Dad would take me fishing and I could literally sit all day long, staring at the water just watching my bobber. I knew that at any minute it would go under and I would catch a fish. What kind of fish or what size didn’t matter. I think it’s that anticipation, that feeling of not knowing what’s going to happen or what the results will be, that keeps me going. Each trip if full of possibilities.
Around fifteen, my Dad gave me my first fly rod. From that day on I haven’t thought about much of anything else. He taught me to cast which shows the amount of patience he has. I can still see in my memory what my cast look like and I just laugh at myself now. Pitiful flailing back and forth that was more of a danger to me and those around me than to any fish. I remember him taking me to my first fly shop and to be frank, I thought this must be what heaven is like.
Above my fly bench hangs that first rod. Shellac worn off, handle smooth and colored with time, thread wraps exposed and guides polished from line passing over them countless times. People have asked, ‘why don’t you refinish it?’. I wouldn’t dare, because for me, all those dings and wear marks make that rod priceless. That rod is like a magic wand that holds all my fishing ‘mojo’ from over time. It’s seen more waters than I can count and its seen heat, cold and storms that I can’t believe I was insane enough to fish in. I glance at it often and realize it is where this addiction called fly fishing started. It represents hours of hope and despair as I made cast after cast. It represents some of the largest fish I have ever caught, whose memories still shine bright in my mind.
I still have the first vise and fly tying book he bought me around the same time. Of course I’ve upgraded five or six, well more like ten (see fisherman lie a-lot) vices since then but it still sits in a wooden case on my fly tying bench as a reminder of how it all started. In a way, I’m glad I don’t have any of those first flies I tied back then, pitiful excuses for flies as they where. To me at the time, however, they where works of art. It makes me chuckle to myself when I sit down now to tie one of my favorites from back then, just a Catskill Adams, I tie it now and am truly proud of the way it looks and I’ve done it so many times it just comes of the vice with no problems. Not like the struggle that I remember from back then. I think the idea of proper proportions never occurred to me in those early days. It does go to show you that your parents love you and will flat lie to your face to make you feel good about something you’ve created. I laugh when I think of going in and showing them a fly I made and how they would say it was ‘Nice,’ hilarious, I felt like the Michael Angelo of fly tying. I think back now and they looked more like those clay ‘ornaments’ we made in elementary school, it was the thought that counts I guess. I’ve progressed a lot since then and spend as much time tying as I do fishing.
I can remember reading fly fishing magazines and being excited to get up the next morning and putting what I had read to practice. As I tried to sleep that night, I would see in my minds eye the mist coming off the water as the sun hit it and hear the sounds around me, see my perfect cast (to me) roll out. Every trip made me feel like a kid at Christmas and it still does. Today of course visualizing success is a common technique among athletes and even in business. I feel like Al Gore, I think I invented that.
After thirty-three years of fly fishing nothing has changed for me. I still feel just like that kid all those years ago. Looking at fly catalogs like they where some dirty magazine. Planning trips and ways to fish new water or even ways to fish water new I’ve been on for thousands of hours. It’s all the same to me, everything is done to either make money or time to fish. People often ask me how do you know what your passion is; well if you love to do something just as much now as you did over thirty years ago I think you can call that your passion. As for me, however, it’s an addiction. A need, drive, almost like some genetic urge to not swim up stream but to walk in it and catch those fish that are there. Just like those fish are following their genetic makeup to swim and spawn I think I am just following mine to try every thing I can to catch them and if not to at least share some time with them as we both work our way up this stream we call life.