I was 12 years old and had been fly-fishing with my Dad for about a year. Until that point I had hooked plenty of trees, bushes and rocks but had yet to hook my first fish on a fly. I was beginning to get really frustrated with this new fishing technique and was on the verge of switching back to the reliables of worms, powerbait or the Panther Martin. One afternoon my Dad and I walked down to one of his favorite spots along the banks of the Colorado River. Given my frustration, I was pretty much going through the motions thinking I was going to have another fish-less outing. I will always remember the moment that day when my Dad hollered “set the hook” and I actually felt a fish on the end of my line. Being in complete shock, I am pretty sure I lost that first one, but just a few casts later I landed my first fish on a fly rod. Over 20 years later I am still “hooked” on the sport that I almost abandoned. To this day I am passionate about the sport because, regardless of your age or level of experience, fly-fishing is filled with those memorable “first time” experiences. Whether it is your first time, first fish, first time on a new river, or first fish landed on a dry fly of the season, fly-fishing is full of new experiences.
Experiencing these first times also fulfills the urge to explore and discover new places. We are very fortunate to have hundreds of miles of river, hundreds of lakes, and miles of backcountry to explore nearby. It is nice to have the “honey hole” that can always be relied on for a fish or two, but I really enjoy pushing myself to try new spots, new waters, or simply float a different stretch of river. These new experiences can be challenging but are typically extremely rewarding. Exploring these new locations will sharpen your ability to read water and identify holding water for fish, can broaden your knowledge of entomology and bug life, challenge your rowing skills, and can provide the opportunity to catch new species of fish.
As I have had the chance to introduce others to the sport, I have enjoyed getting to experience those fly-fishing first times, second-hand. Recently I have enjoyed teaching my fiancée how to fly-fish. I have been there for her first catch, for the landing of her first BIG fish and watched her fool her first fish with a dry fly just a few weeks ago. I think she has enjoyed these experiences since she keep going on outings with me, but my excitement on these days has been through the roof! Two weeks ago on the Bitterroot I could not help but to holler and yell when a nice cutt-bow inhaled her skwala dry fly. I am not sure if she was more surprised by the fish taking the fly from the surface, or by my childish reaction. Either way, she is definitely prepared for my response to her next fly-fishing first; hopefully landing a Brown Trout that eclipses the 20 inch mark or catching her first colorful Brook Trout.
Now I find myself making lists of what my next new experience with a fly rod might be. It could be landing my first Steelhead, could be casting to exotic species of fish on a saltwater flat, or traveling to far away countries with my fly rod. Thanks to my Dad’s introduction to fly-fishing I will continue to pursue all of those first time memories.