Bad knots, lost flies, and falling in love.

(Let’s be real, sometimes we catch more trees than fish!)

When we met, the three of us felt isolated and were looking for kinship. Somehow our lives convened and our worlds will never be the same. Over burgers and beer, we bonded. It was May, the spring was late and we were HUNGRY for the outdoors, we landed on fish talk: fly fishing. We all wanted it. It called our collective names even though we didn’t know a darned thing, aside from Laura’s childhood lessons. There was also a total lack of gear; we shared a pair of waders fondly christened the ‘Potato Pants’, a fly rod, a pair of hand-me-down boots (four sizes too large for us), and a box of flies. But heck, we like a challenge, and so it began!

The first cast on every trip is like discovering joy together, all over again. Fly fishing isn’t just a common passion; it’s now a motif of infinite love and camaraderie that drew us out of isolated buckets into deep, connective currents. We are not impervious to seasons; we have floods and dry spells, bends and holding pools. Traveling along together, independently working different seams but on the same river, we are bound together.

 We’re all ‘round the same age. Sweet as roses and feisty as badgers! There’s a little rough-and-tumble in each of us, yet we’re city dwelling ladies: a designer, an ecologist, and a non-profit financier.

 

There’s Kd, who brings the bourbon and has the freedom of a wildfire.

Kd spent her early years as a Kentucky River rat, rope swinging from the willows.

I grew up alongside the Kentucky River as it meandered through the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Canoeing up, down and across, building mudslides into, harvesting meals from— the river was home. And fortunately the house was 100 yards uphill.

Fishing came into play during those early years. It began with overturning limestone slabs in search of earthworms and walking to the river bank, pole in hand, hoping to hook a scrappy bluegill. Followed by my first memory of learning to catch, kill and clean. Between my siblings and I, we could rack up a decent dinner.

 I was able to gain these experiences during such impressionable years that water remains a source of refuge and dedication. Through studying freshwater ecology and immersing myself in miles of flowing streams, I have learned to acknowledge the depth of resources within our waters. The physical resources as well as the life lessons at hand.

Fly fishing is the current medium for learning many of these lessons. Upon moving to Oregon in 2014, I met Laura, who introduced me to the art. And oh, what a journey it has become. I have yet to achieve a beautiful cast or hook a whopper on the fly, but it has been the most rewarding method of learning a new skill. A skill that allows me to get out with my ladies and experience the freedoms and forces within nature.

 

And then there’s Laura, our joyful Idaho gal who keeps us fly.

Laura has snorkeled miles of rivers; we think it gives her an unfair advantage.

I was fortunate to grow up in a family of fishers. On a typical weekend during my childhood, my folks would load up the astrovan with fly rods, float tubes, camping gear and lastly, us three kids. Southern Idaho offers some hidden gems, and after just a few bends in the road we’d find ourselves deep in a rugged canyon, or tucked away in thick Russian Olive trees on a desert reservoir. The need to be on the water was instilled in me at an early age, and has thankfully never drifted away.

During my college days, I spent several summers working as a fisheries technician doing habitat surveys, snorkeling creeks and rivers, and recording stream conditions. I waded and snorkeled some of the wildest water systems, but can you believe it? I didn’t pack a flyrod! What a shame!

It wasn’t until a few years ago that the love of fly fishing hit me and swiftly consumed me. I wasn’t just along for the ride anymore, like my younger years. I was desperate to learn every aspect of the sport (and quickly realized I’ll be learning for the rest of my life!). Finding fellow ladies with the same drive to be on the water has solidified (and maybe justified), my obsession. Fish or no fish, we fish on.

And lastly Rebecca, our dreamer and social schemer.

Rebecca is always looking ahead to the future for the next great adventure, maybe that’s why she trips so often!

In another life I was a flying fish. The fleeting glide of air and water haunts me like a memory where I don’t know my own name. I was born in a land of lakes, in the deep B.C. mountains. Summers drove me into icy waters as sweet liberty from the dry heat. It’s a magical land of water where minerals seep from the rocks, turning lakes the color of jade and cobalt. Water is poetry: two simple gases combined to create the most powerful earthly force.

Sailing on tall ships, surfing icy PNW waves, skiing coastal mountains, I’ve always sought out  the next adventure. Living in the Arctic for a couple summers, it was there I caught my first fish. It was a 20 inch lake trout and I was breathless. It was love at first bite and brought me closer than ever to the living water. Fly fishing was a dream, and meeting my ladies was the gateway. But I am a guest in these delicate ecosystems and the call for stewardship is clear. To gather forces for justice, and the protection of our wild lands, is always just a trumpet call away inside my head. However, stewardship is nothing without those who inspire courage. My ladies, Kd and Laura know me, and yet love me still. We share our joy, to inspire others to find theirs!

What a motley crew, eh? We love water. It’s our joy, and all things within it!

With a champagne promise we committed 2016 as the year of fly fishing, an epic year which keeps growing into 2017, 2018, 2019…

We’ve been working hard to share our joy by raising support and awareness for issues which impact the natural world, through fly swaps and fundraisers.

We’ve lost a lot of flies, snagged a lot of branches, spent a lot of time untangling line. But these are the rites of passage, and you know what? We’ve gotten better, even possibly kinda decent, and some moments of absolute greatness. Getting out there allows us to continue our path of learning regional waters and study their vast relationships among Pacific Northwest ecosystems. Through fly fishing we’ve established a deeper connection to the life within these waters and hope to continue our endeavor to protect and conserve such delicate natural resources. Fly fishing might not be your jam, but here’s what we suggest: go try it. At the very least, you will learn something new about yourself, and at best you will earn joy, which has unquantifiable wealth.

 @therovingdears

About The Author

Jill Kana

Jill is in charge of a great deal of our web content here at Denver Outfitters and is always looking for potential blog contributors, content, and #FlyGalFridays. If you have any desire to say hello or have an idea, please touch base with her at jill@denveroutfitters.com

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