Have you ever want to know how to Fly Fish? Here is my story of why I learned how to Fly Fish…
It is said that “you, can never fish the same waters twice.” This is something that I wholeheartedly agree with because it has been my personal experience.
About seven years ago my life as I knew it came crashing down around me. Everything I thought was real, solid, tangible and forever, was about to become the proverbial carpet being yanked out from under my feet. Maybe that’s why I have a new found appreciation for country music after being a life long fan of Chuck D and Public Enemy.
My relationship with my partner was over, home gone, job gone, money gone and my father was just diagnosed with stage 4 (a terminal case) gallbladder cancer. I had to recover or get past a 16 year relationship, find a new place to live, get new work, decide how I was going to spend my last few dollars and be a strong son for a father who knew he was dying and a mother who had no idea what was going to happen next. The only thing I could think of at this time was, of the time I had spent trout fishing with my dad when I was a kid. All I wanted to do in the midst of this chaos was go fishing.
Living in Oakville by now, about ten minutes away from one of my father’s favorite Salmon Run rivers, I decided I was going to go fishing. I taken my last few dollars and bought new spin fishing gear. I went down to the river, geared up and went fishing. Life was looking good. As I started to walk the riverbank to find a spot to wade in, I noticed garbage everywhere, gutted fish carcasses smelling to high heaven, guys yelling and screaming at each other over who had the spot first. I realized that this was nothing of the fishing with my father that I remembered. I decided I would keep walking.
As I rounded a quite bend, away from the commotion, about a hundred meters upstream from me, I saw a man fishing by himself and fly casting. I stopped to watched and was captivated by the grace, rhythm and complete connective-ness I remembered when I was fishing with my dad as a kid. I got out of the water and found my way up the bank to get close enough to say hello to this man. To my surprise he stopped what he was doing, reeled in and said hello. About an hour later, when our conversation was done, I knew I needed to return my newly purchased spin gear and learn how to fly fish. You see, it is rare to find many people today that will stop to take the time to engage you in your interests any more. Especially when we’re talking about fishing.
I spent the next 3 months trying to learn how to fly fish on my own. I quizzed endless shop owners, watched hours of YouTube videos, lost about $400 dollars worth of flies but I was on my way to learning how to fly fishing. I was having the time of my life. Learning how to fly fish was teaching me patience and it was giving me a sense of clarity I had long needed.
My relationship anxieties were melting away, the conversations I had to have with my lawyer made him feel uncomfortable and as my father was slipping away, we had something to talk about that wasn’t related to his fleeting end. And to this I owe my deepest thanks to fly fishing. When you can connect with someone emotionally to an interest or passion, the world as you know it ceases to exist. If learning how to fly fish is not for you, I would encourage you to find something that you can truly loose yourself in.
I fish with my father’s old fly fishing rod and reel he used when he was learning how to fly fish over 30 years ago. It’s the only thing I wanted from his estate. I have several other much more expensive and technically advanced rods and reels but this one is priceless to me. Fishing with this old rod makes me feel as though he is right there with me. I am connected. My wish for you is that you find your connection too.
I had the equipment, found lots of spots to fish, caught lots of fish but there had to be more. I wanted a bigger connection. I came upon an organization while Googling an assortment of fly fishing topics. PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and Veterans came up in the search and I really wasn’t sure how this all came together, until I checked out this website… Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing was a group of people who either had experience with fly fishing or PTSD and the Military. I wanted to know more and I wanted to know if I could help. Turns out, I was some one who could relate to these experiences and could help. I engaged.
Lewis is a Purple Heart Recipient, POW, Fly Fisher and all around great guy who suffers from PTSD. He was my first participant that wanted to learn how to fly fish. I was there to help Lewis any way I could. The young man standing next to Lewis is his son. On this day, Lewis and I shared an amazing moment. I had taken Lewis fly fishing a couple of weeks earlier and his wife was so impressed with how big of a change one day on the water had made with Lewis that she asked him,” if we could take their son on our next outing.” I said “absolutely” and we were off. That day, Lewis’ son skunked us. He caught all the fish, we caught none.
Lewis and I were standing about 20 meters down stream from his son, he turned to me with a tear in his eye and told me that this was the first time he had remembered seeing his son smile in years. At that moment, I knew that the quickest way to get what you wanted, was to help as many people get what they wanted. This was the spirit of everything I had learned through fly fishing and a father and son were connected again.
“you, can never fish the same waters twice.”
You, like the flowing water of the river are constantly changing and moving. It is impossible to be the same when you next meet. Be a better person the next time you find yourself at the waters edge. Know that the water too will be different and embrace the new experience. In fly fishing, the term is to “lean in” or “lean forward”. Move forward. Leave what is behind you in the past. Look ahead and find your next cast.
I am leaving you with a quick little video that I hope you will all watch. It covers everything I failed to mention as to why I learned how to fly fish. If you can make it through this short video I would like to ask you to remember to take the time to thank a Veteran or any one for that matter that has affected the betterment of your life. And if you are really bold, head over to Project Healing Waters Canada and check us out, thank a Veteran or make a donation if you can.
Tight lines and if anyone wants a lesson on the water – comment on this page with your details and I will get in touch.