The First Time

**Author’s note:  A republish. Busy updating this blog site. Enjoy!

I started this endeavor–you know fly fishing–almost 20 years ago. My dad got it all started when I was little. My brother and I went a lot–we cut out of work several times to hit a small, beautiful stream in Missouri where we grew up. I also married a beautiful woman from Montana. I also watched A River Runs Through It too many times to count. But I guess the clincher was the fish itself.

Like Norman MacLean, the Montana of my youth was a mystical place. As a family we would travel to Glacier Park and camp and picnic. The clear streams flowing from the mountainsides were teeming with life. My first rig was a stick, some line, and a gold hook. One of my cousins said to me, “Just throw your line in the water. You’ll catch something.” I’m not sure if he realized what he was saying to me.

After a couple of minutes I did indeed have something. I caught a glorious little Cutthroat and I was caught myself with the magic and beauty of that fish. My mom took a Polaroid of my smiling, toothless, six-year-old face. From that point on I have loved fishing–especially for trout.

Thoreau wrote, “Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.” I partly agree, but I’m not a Transcendentalist. I do go fishing to catch fish, and more importantly big fish, but I also enjoy the beauty of the surroundings: the quiet of a pool, the chatter and singing of birds, the take of a trout on a dry. There’s something immersive about the experience. In that way it does transcend reality and I’m thankful for it.

For the last few years I’ve been learning and practicing my dead-drifting technique. Never was I aware of the vast amounts of information regarding the various disciplines. I don’t think I could go out on the water and point to a fisherman and say, “Oh, that’s theLeisenring Lift.” Rather, “Hey, that’s a cool technique. I wonder if I could catch more fish that way.” And that leads to questions and sometimes conversations and pretty soon it leads to shared stories and experiences. That’s the good of the sport. Most fisherman love to talk about their passion. I do. That’s why I’m writing of course. But I’ve also done it for a long time. Hopefully, some of my knowledge can be useful to others. I even have techniques that I like to use that others can benefit from as well. And I’m still learning. Especially in this area of the country, living on the shores of Lake Michigan. I’ve never gone after big fish before this. And I’ve had two encounters with Chromers. But I’ll write about that later.

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