But first let me rewind a little bit here- fly fishing has never been foreign to me. Growing up my dad often took me along with him to the river and would show me the basics- casting, flies, knots, etc. I am even proud to say that my first fly box was bright purple with Scooby Doo on the front. You get the point. I had plenty of exposure to fly fishing throughout my life, and I always admired the sport, but if someone were to tell me that one day it would become my biggest passion and change my life, I would have thought they were crazy.
I have always loved spending time with my dad, and I was completely devoted to finding something to make our bond stronger. Not having much to do in Denver at the time, I started to spend more and more time on the water with him as my interest in fly fishing grew. Those who know my dad would call him a perfectionist at the least, and his fishing game is no different. He used to make me stand in the middle of our driveway for hours and practice my casting as he critiqued my every motion. Summer of 2016 was the season I decided to really focus on fly fishing, and, to be frank, it was absolutely defeating. After fishing about ten times with my dad and getting skunked every single time, I was about to give up.
It was then that I happened to stumble into Denver Fly Shop to purchase some gear for an upcoming float trip on the North Platte with my dad and brother. I will say- I’m not a huge believer in fate, but meeting Ross and Gavin that day changed the course of my life. I was welcomed with open arms into the intimidating male dominated industry.
My first trip with Ross was a success and I was hooked more than ever- not only was I addicted to the thrill of reeling in a gorgeous trout that I was able to fool with pure skill and tactics, I was also addicted to being on the water. Being in the outdoors and on the water is incredibly healing; everyday concerns fade into background noise as your focus shifts to the dynamics of the water and the pure, innocent beauty that surrounds you.
As they say, consistency is key. Fly fishing is a sport that takes consistent practice to be able to be successful. Why I decided to start consistently applying my skills in the winter is still a mystery to me, but regardless I have learned so much. Fly fishing is probably the only sport where you knowingly accept that you will never be able to learn everything- but this is yet another reason why I love it.
“My dad gave me the ultimate honor of passing down his fly tying materials. Although most of the materials were purchased 20 years ago at Anglers Covey, there was something beautiful about using the same pheasant tail that once gave him the best fish of his life. “
My first few weeks into fishing I purchased Pat Dorsey’s Tying and Fishing Tailwater Flies and Landon Mayer’s 101 Trout Tips. These are two books I highly recommend anyone new to fly fishing. When I wasn’t fishing, I was reading or thinking about fishing. My dad gave me the ultimate honor of passing down his fly tying materials. Although most of the materials were purchased 20 years ago at Anglers Covey, there was something beautiful about using the same pheasant tail that once gave him the best fish of his life. I semi-successfully taught myself how to tie from YouTube videos (I say semi because if you ask Rachel or Ross I was actually tying in the wrong direction for a couple of months). Regardless, January 1, 2017, I caught a beautiful rainbow trout on a size 22 red midge that I tied myself. Not only was this my first fish I caught on my very own fly, but it was also my personal best fish. The high was unbeatable. Knowing that you were able to fool a fish from the fly to the cast and drift- all of the moving pieces came together. I’ll never forget that day.
I strongly believe that one of the healthiest things you can do in your lifetime is push yourself to get outside of your comfort zone. Life is too short to be comfortable, and as scary as embracing the unknown might be, you will always be able to learn from the outcome. In many ways, fly fishing has absolutely pushed me to leave my comfort zone. The first time I left my comfort zone in the realm of fly fishing was attending my first Women’s Night at Denver Fly Shop. I have always been able to handle most social situations, but when you walk into a room full of hardcore female anglers it can be very intimidating. However, I was quickly reassured that most of the women were also fairly new to fly fishing, and the ones who were veterans were more than eager to welcome new women to the industry. This is the night I met Rachel- the mutuality of not knowing anyone brought us together and now it seems I don’t go fishing without her and Malila, our trusted river pup. Although we almost died on one of our first trips together, we have still remained close fishing partners.
To whoever says fly fishing is just a sport- my story bears proof that it is more. In a lot of ways fly fishing gave me a new life. Fly fishing has allowed me to have a stronger bond with my father, it has given me a true passion, it has challenged me both physically and intellectually, it has taught me how to respect nature, it has pushed me to be the most genuine person I can be, and it has given me friends for life. It’s been an adventure so far and I’ve met a lot of incredible people along the way. I do believe that some things happen for a reason. My advice to anyone- a hard time, a broken heart, a low point, is only a door for a new opportunity- one that could change your life is so many great ways.