“It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this: You will outlive the bastards.”—Edward Abbey
Inevitably, it comes up in conversation at some point. “How long have you been guiding?” Quickly followed by something related to “do you enjoy it?” or “is it hard?”
My pat answer is related to having been a guide and instructor for more than 20 years and fly fisherman for more than 50. Here is the thing, that answer is really not a very good one. It is time answer as opposed to an experience answer.
People, when they ask that question are not really asking about the length of time. They are asking about what they experience has been like. That got me thinking.
Guiding and being a fly-fishing instructor is an essential part of my life. In a lot of ways, it helps me manage the other parts of my life, like my job at the Marine Fish Conservation Network, or being a grandfather or a husband.
Here are some things about guiding that people deserve to hear when I answer that question.
• It’s fun, it really is. Sure, guiding is work and the pre- and post-trip stuff is a pain but when someone catches a fish or makes a good cast the smile on their face makes me smile. When we start laughing together because of pure pleasure the sport provides that is fun. Smiles equal fun.
• Working outside is a extraordinary opportunity. During most days, I sit in my office, looking at my computer. Working outside, especially in and around moving water is a much more enjoyable experience. There is much more sensory involvement, sights, sounds, smells and direct human and animal interactions. Doctors even prescribe it as “ecotherapy.”
• It is a teaching experience. Every guide trip and every class, I learn something. The guests and students expect me to help them the whether it is catching fish or learning to fish. But that is only half the equation, they have to be able to learn from me, and that is my responsibility. Teaching is tough but learning is harder. Being able to communicate in a way that allows people to succeed is my goal every time I offer instructions. But as fulfilling as it is to see someone succeed, the knowledge that I am learning at the same time is the big reward. And, more often than not, I learn something about myself.
• Practicing what I preach. Conservation of our natural resources is essential. It is what I do at the Network and what I believe to the deepest reaches of my soul. Having a chance to share that conservation ethic is a rewarding part of my guiding gigs. Talking about clean water and showing best fish handling practices like “Keep ‘em Wet” directly engages my guests and shows them why conservation is essential to a good fishing experience.
• Guiding has made me a better person, more patient, more understanding and more tuned into my surroundings. Truth be told those attributes have not always transferred to the rest of my life. There is some comfort in knowing that and realizing I have to do better. Perhaps that is the thing I like the most.
The double haul is a casting technique that can be challenging for many fly fisherman. Simon Gawesworth for Rio Products offers some excellent tips.
The double haul is a “pat your head while rubbing your stomach” kinda of cast but if you follow Simon’s suggestions you should be able to get the hang of it.
I agree with the set up recommends to learn the double haul, but you don’t have to wait until you have it. You can learn with a regular weight forward line. Simon’s suggestion will just make it easier.
If you want a casting lesson or Rio lines you can find both at Mossy Creek Fly Fishing.
It graces our home as a reminder of the magic that is Christmas.
We are also blessed with the magic of theses smiling faces
Here’s hoping this finds you safe, happy and in the company of those you love.
Merry Christmas to you and yours!
For the last few years I have been posting this Thanksgiving day quote from Theodore Roosevelt. I have yet to find one better on this day.
“Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds.”
Theodore Roosevelt, Thanksgiving, 1903
And never forget on this day and every day, paraphrasing Winston Churchill, we enjoy Thanksgiving because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm. For them I am eternally thankful.
For ten years I have the honor and privilege to teach an outstanding group of women, the Michigan State University Fly Gals, how to fly fish. In the spaces between learning to fish we talk a lot about conservation and leadership. I am humbled, intimidated and awestruck but the women who participate in the Fly Gals program. They are intelligent, focused, confident and eager to learn. They have pushed or are pushing the knowledge envelope far beyond anything I ever cared to and I learn a great deal from each group. These are entertaining over achievers and that makes it fun, but I know they can smell bullshit a mile away so I have to be prepared to be challenged which is always good for instructors.
This May marked the tenth year we got together and there was a little extra celebration and a wonderful gift.
Willie the Tenkara Bear.
Willie came to me pretty much as you see here with a small addition.
Willie was an instant hit and has already become an important traveling companion. Folks who stumble across this blog or are Facebook or Instagram connections know that for a time my Mossy Creek Fly Fishing hat was the subject of a travelogue.
Willie is the successor to the hat.
Let the adventures begin…