Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Beginning.....

Almost frozen

During a recent move, I came across my 2012 ‘Bucket List’ that included “fly fish once a month.”  Fly fishing was just going to be an “I feel-like-being-outside-today” activity, yet my once a month goal has become more of a weekend ritual & in my first year, I logged about 40-50 days on the water.  I fished all year; sweated my butt off in the summer & I froze my butt off in the dead of winter.

It’s been quite the journey full of frustrations, cuss words, beautiful fish, beautiful scenery, & endless happy memories.  It’s interesting (at least to me) to look back at my photos & actually see the progress I’ve made. I’ve thought a lot about what my biggest frustrations have been. I’m sure there’s more I can list, but here’s the top ones:
One massive nymph rig knot
Nymphs stuck in my fingers

Back Cast- Simply put, it’s all over the place! I’ve lost flies to the shortest of weeds, to high up in the trees.  Every single person I’ve fished with tells me the same thing: “Watch your back cast” or, “Slow it down”.  You would think after hearing it over & over again, I would get it, but it continues to be a struggle. Probably my biggest struggle.  Truth be told, I’m pretty much a weakling so to get farther casts, I equate speed to strength.  Obviously this is not the case, as proven by multiple pile casts! When I actually watch my casts, I can do it properly…but after watching a few, I revert to old habits. I wish a bark collar of sorts existed for bad back casts; I bet if I got zapped every time my back cast failed, I’d learn a lot quicker! I’m not sure how to correct this. Maybe just continued practice & forcing myself to watch my casts until my body naturally moves with proper form.  When I first started, I had some wicked wrist action going on, but found wearing a simple hair band around my wrist & slipping the butt of the rod in the band, kept the rod in proper position.
My very first fish
Gear- I’m not sure I can change anything here, but fishing gear for women sucks.  I’m not entirely sure why the hunting, skiing/boarding, skating, surfing, etc. industries can figure it out, but the angling industry cannot.  Even the “women” styles are clearly not made for women. The waders are just slimmed down men sizes & last I checked I have different curves than a man does.  Same goes for the vests & waist packs, just smaller sizes.  It just doesn’t work.  Sure, Simms will customize sizes, but sorry Simms, I don’t have $800 to give you & I’m willing to bet the majority of women (especially those starting out) don’t either.  I know that companies like Redington, Simms, Orvis, etc. are working on them, but perhaps the designers could have chats with Browning or Red Head over in the hunting world to help them out. That’s enough about that!

 Patience- Yes. I admit it. I am wickedly impatient & now it’s out there for the whole world to read!  I can’t help it. Or maybe I can…but either way, patience is kind of a big deal in the sport of angling. I can say though, that I am more patient that I was a year ago. Scary really, but progress is progress!  Every new technique I try, I say the same thing, “I can’t do it.” “This is lame.” “I don’t want to do this.” Luckily, my stubbornness outweighs my impatience & I finally buck up! I should try & take my own advice here, but slow down, breathe, realize its not a sprint & slow & steady growth is just fine. 

Fishing adventures with Beard
Fishing Friends- I know, this sounds like a positive rather than a negative but in this case it’s both. I have been extremely fortunate to fish with amazing anglers, but with my level of aforementioned impatience, combined with self-set super high standards, I’ve frequently had to remind myself to relax & remember my fellow anglers have been fishing for 20+ years versus my one year. Let’s take Beard for example.  He’s good. Extremely good. I’m not saying that because he’s my other half, I say it because of his abilities. I’ve never met anyone that can fish like him or offer his level of consistency.  Beard can walk up to any river, cast twice, maybe three times & catch a fish & it will be at least 18 inches. This isn’t an exaggeration. Beard it the Trout Whisper. Beard, I have no doubt, was a beastly brown, in his past life. I’ve learned an immense amount from Beard, but if I were to be completely  honest, there have been days I'm so annoyed fishing with him & just don’t understand, if I’m doing the same thing as him (sans the bad back cast) I can’t catch anything!  BUT!!!!!  There was one day that I DID out fish Beard & that was awesome. Just awesome!!  In the end, I appreciate the lessons I have learned from people like my Dad, big brother, & Beard. I may be a stubborn student, but I do listen & simply must continue to remind myself that I shouldn’t compare 1 year of abilities to those of a veteran angler.(For the record, I did not start fishing because of Beard. Beard came after my addiction was in full swing.)

Happy, happy cold days
 Whew! I feel like I just had some long confessional about my naughty fishing habits! Alas, in the end, I’ve made a lot of advancements & I’m happy with where I’ve ended my first year.  Being able to set up a nymph rig without getting it stuck in my fingers is a plus. I think fishing 40-50 days, 10 different rivers, & 2 states seems a good haul as a newbie. I tied a handful of my own flies that actually caught fish! Fishing through the Colorado winter was a pretty big deal for me.  Catching my much loved 23 ½” brown trout is even a bigger deal to me! To this day that fish makes me grin from ear to ear.  I’m pleased some of my photos were used in a Trout Unlimited article about women anglers, as well as having been a board member for the Colorado Woman Fly Fishers. I’m excited & appreciative to have the support of Cheeky Fly Fishing. Lastly, I am beyond humbled by the support from all of you. I never really thought people would read what I write, let alone continue to read my jumbled writing. Truly & sincerely, thank you!


What’s coming in Year 2 of my fishing adventures & Rods, Reels, & Heels?  Well, I hope to come up with a logo, I’m working on an actual website & I’ve got a few other things up my sleeve!  As for fishing, I am going to correct my ugly back casts & focus on having more patience. I’d like to start tying on semi-regular basis & I’d like to do more art via me love of fishing.   I have a solid list of rivers to fish & species to catch. Some have told me it’s a bit hefty for a beginner. Maybe. But, I’d rather get my butt whooped by a fish then not even try (even if I complain)! 

See ya on the river!