As I wrap up my first season of fly fishing, I'm left with plenty to reflect on. It seems I may have learned more life lessons than fishing lessons.
May 6th was the first day I cast a fly and I even managed to catch a fish! Since then, my casting has improved; I finally figured out how to tie on my own flies, and even set up a nymph rig. I managed to set a hook in my own face once and countless times in my hands. I accidentally ate a Caddis and learned the value of a face mask. I've watched a Bald Eagle fish for dinner, a black bear saunter along, a handful of deer getting a drink, a river otter that scared me half to death, and even a skunk, safely on the opposite bank.
Thirty-two days of my summer were spent on the rivers of Colorado. (I may or may not have used a sick day or two.) I was able to fish 7 of Colorado's rivers and have a laundry list of places yet to go. My first fish, a little 9"rainbow, came out of the South Platte at Deckers. I named him Frank and blame that little guy for being the reason I've spent my money on various fishing equipment and devoted ALL my spare time to chasing (bigger) tail. The Colorado River proves to be my go-to spot as I can always catch something. I caught a 17" brown, but have no proof because I dropped him. I thought it would be okay since I hadn't removed the fly yet. Wrong. He took it. To say the least, I learned to tie a better knot. I even managed to cry (I'm a sissy) on the Colorado. Poor fish!!! He swallowed my fly and it took me forever to get it out. He wouldn't move out from between my feet and the longer he stayed there, the more worried I got and finally....I couldn't hold the tough girl act and tears fell. Fortunately, he finally swam off. Whew. The Arkansas River is my nemesis; no matter how hard I try, I cannot catch a fish on that river. One day, Arkansas....I will figure you out! I hiked 5 miles into a spot on the Blue River just to be caught in a monster down pour for 45 minutes. Cold and soaked to the bone, I fell hard for a man and his dog. (I really miss that dog.) I even managed to catch a few decent size rainbows on other parts of the Blue. The Big Thompson was where I got to fish with my favorite angler. Fishing with my Dad was the highlight of my fishing excursions. There's not a fish big enough to compare to that of a day on the water with my Pops.
When I made the decision to start fly fishing, my goal was to fish once or twice a month. I've blown that out of the water. Maybe it's the hope of a bite, maybe it's the people, but maybe it's the rivers that keep us coming back and change us the most. The Rivers are fierce and strong; sometimes they veer off and make their own new path. They can be raging and just around the bend, a nice calm pool. Rivers are a lot like life, and you just put one foot in front of the other and go with the current. But the one thing it doesn't do, is stop. No matter what obstacle is in front, you just keep going; over it, around it, but you don't stop.
Originally I had planned to fish only in the spring/summer and became a self pro-claimed "fair weather fisherman" but I really don't think I can go 4-6 months without fishing. I'm a horrible (emphasis on horrible) roll caster and I'd rather fish a dry fly any day...but I guess I'm going to have to figure that out too. Fishing was supposed to be a hobby, one I did every now and again. Instead, I've immersed myself into the sport, and without even realizing it, completely immersed myself into life.
If you're out on the water this fall and winter and see a girl layered and fluffed up looking like a marshmallow, waddling around like a penguin...It's probably me....so say hi, I don't bite! Just don't stand anywhere near me when I'm roll casting!