Lessons from the River

Quite a few years ago I got a cheapy fly fishing rod. Stan and I went out a couple of times while our kids were younger, but carving the time was always tough.

This year my son – the ultimate outdoorsman – had an interest in taking up fly fishing. He and I signed up and took a Fly Fishing Level 1 class at our local community college. It was led by a wonderful “old timer” with tons of experience and antidotes of life on the river. If I was the youngest in the class by 20 years, my son was the youngest in the class by nearly 50! I was super proud of him as he jumped right in, asked questions, volunteered, and tried his hand at something new. (BTW, local community colleges offer a plethora of community education courses – we’ve taken countless and always enjoy them. Check yours out!)

What I didn’t know was that while he took interest in fly fishing and I was getting completely “hooked” (bad pun, I know!). I absolutely love it! I fly fish whenever I get a chance. I practice casting in my backyard, I’ve read multiple books, binged entire YouTube channels, and even have complete dreams about fly fishing.

It’s kind of a problem. But it’s also kind of awesome!

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My kiddos landing a rainbow trout at Pa-Co-Chu-Puk (Ridgway, CO)

I haven’t had a hobby I’ve enjoyed this much since I played sports in high school looooooong ago.

The thing about fly fishing is that it takes skill and strategy. It is equal parts total relaxation and intense work. There are days I catch a big one and feel on top of the world, just to be followed by days I get completely skunked and am humbled back to earth. It takes just enough concentration that it provides a subtle reprieve from the day-to-day pressures of life. Hours on the river pass like fleeting minutes. My family knows “One last cast” means I’ll meet you at the car in an hour.

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Family and friends at Water Dog Reservoir on the Grand Mesa (CO)

I learn every time I go – different rivers and lakes, different water conditions, different fish feeding patterns, different hatches taking place, different weather and temperature…it’s never ever the same. You constantly have to take it all in, observe what’s happening around you, adjust accordingly, and continue to adjust along the way. Sometimes, you just have to throw something out there and see if you get a strike.

There is a saying in fly fishing… “The tug is the drug”.

The moment when it all lines up and you find success. A beautiful rainbow, brown, or cutthroat trout in the net. It’s simply incredible. Sure, catching big fish is a blast, but even a 5-inch brookie is about the experience, the beautiful surroundings, and being in God’s creation. The fact that my entire family is now into fly fishing is just icing on the cake for me. Though make no mistake, only one out of the four of us is over-the-top nuts about, and that’s the one writing this post.

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My husband and son fishing the iconic Gunnison River in the Black Canyon (Montrose, CO)

The more I sit back and reflect on my fly fishing journey these last few months, the more I realize the sport is actually a wonderful metaphor for life. If you re-read this post and replace elements of fly fishing with aspects of your professional and personal life, it will all hold true. Well, except maybe the obsessive part (I’m working on that!).

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My boy doing his thing at the Gunnison Gorge (CO)

So, consider this post as an open invitation to any of my friends or colleagues who would like to join me in fishing some of the most pristine, bucket list-worthy Gold-medal waters in the world, right here in my backyard. Find your way here to Western CO, and I’ll treat you to an unbelievable adventure chasing trout on the river!

Like the classic line from Norman Maclean A River Runs Through It, “Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.”

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