Fishing for me is a collection of moments. Those moments can be finally catching a different species or it could be finally catching a fish. Each angler has a first moment that they remember and cherish. It doesn’t have to be a first fish ever, but instead it could be the first fish caught on a fly rod. I personally cannot remember the first fish I caught. I do remember fishing for brook trout on a small pond where my dad grew up so I can fairly assume that that is where I caught my first fish. My first fish on a fly rod was a salmon and I can remember it like it was just yesterday.
When I first started fly fishing I did not have anyone showing me what to do or taking me under their wing. I read a lot, but there is no better way to learn than to just get out there and do it yourself. I was persistant and spent as much time as possible on the water, but I just couldn’t put it all together. That was until I was on my home river and one observation changed everything. As I was walking up river I noticed another angler standing at the head of the pool fishing into the heavy current. He was casting his lure across the current and after it swung to the seam closer to him he was slowly retrieving it back to him. In short order he had caught a couple nice salmon.
I waited patiently for him to leave the run before I tried to imitate what he had done with my fly rod. As I worked my streamer along the seam I had a couple salmon hit my fly. This was my first taste of success and I think I may have giggled a little bit. That day I hooked and landed a couple of salmon and the feeling was overwhelming. I think I was most proud of figuring it out myself and for never quitting when it would have been much easier to give up and move onto something else.
This past fall I was on a very popular river and while walking to the river that morning I asked a few other anglers how the fishing was. The best response was that the fishing was spectacular, but the catching was mediocre at best. However the best and most memorable interaction was later that day. I noticed a female angler walking away from the river. When I asked her how the fishing was I didn’t even get to finish my sentence when she beemed “I just caught my first salmon on a fly rod!” She continued that she was supposed to have left a while ago, but stuck it out and was rewarded. Her joy was clearly evident and I couldn’t help but smile as we parted ways. The memories of how I started came flooding back and I can honestly say that this made my day.
This interaction made me appreciate those first moments that I can give many of my clients. I just hope that each angler that I take out brings back more than just pictures. I hope that they have the same warm feelings of accomplishment no matter what that may be and that they look back on those moments fondly.