Saturday, April 30, 2011
This article to be featured in an upcoming June 2011 issue of "Today's Men" magazine...
in 1992, Robert Redford's film "A River Runs Through It" won the Academy Award for cinematography and also introduced millions of people to a sport that most had probably never even heard of. Against a backdrop of rugged Montana scenery movie watchers looked on as Brad Pitt exclaimed "....in Montana, there's three things we are never late for....church, work, and fishing." The movie was not only about fly fishing, but much more than that it was a movie about relationships among people in the context of fly fishing. And fly fishing remains much the same outdoor, relationally rich activity it was then and that is has always been.
Fly Fishing is mostly different in terms of the equipment one would use. In Fly fishing, we fish for trout, bass, bream, saltwater fish......just about everything. The rod itself is usually seven to nine feet long, and has a very simple reel and a thick plastic line that is heavy enough when cast properly to pull a fly and sometimes weight with it a significant distance through the air. In regular fishing, one would push a button and cast a heavy lure on the end of a very thin fishing line. In fly fishing, the angler is casting the line and the lure (fly) is just being pulled along or going for a 'ride.' We use lures fashioned out of natural materials like fur, feathers, and hair, and often craft these items to resemble an insect, minnow, crayfish, or most any item that a fish might find attractive.
Over the two decades since 1992 the sport of fly fishing has grown leaps and bounds. It is a great activity that can be done alone, with family, friends, co-workers, and business clients, really anyone. It is a great networking tool and connection tool for establishing contact with a prospective client. I see a lot of this today, and its one of the primary benefits of the business I am in.
Here in the Triad, the sport enjoys an enthusiastic following. For me, it has provided a vocation and an avocation for more than two decades: I have been fly fishing for over 30 years and still love it just as much as when I began. As a Professional fly fishing guide and Federation of Fly Fishers Certified Casting Instructor, I own and operate a Fly Fishing Guide and Outfitting business that provides a good living, flexible schedule, travel to great places, and the opportunity to meet and get to know as friends some really great people. Most folks are not only clients, but also my friends.
Folks often get started in this wonderful sport in several ways. I got started early on with my father who made sure I had the opportunity to experience fishing. I later moved on to fly fishing because it was so intriguing and interesting. Many folks get introduced to fly fishing by a friend, family member, co-worker, or business client. Still others take a class or private lessons. Mac Cheek, one customer and friend of mine who I recently asked how best to get one started said "...you find someone like you, a professional who can show you the ropes and help you make progress." Mac did just that several years ago, and now is one of the best fly fishermen I know.
Recently I had the privilege of having lunch with a long time friend and customer David Carter of Greensboro, NC. David has been on many guided trips with me over the pas 15 years or so. In many ways David represents a good example of a typical path so many take in getting started fly fishing. As a corporate executive for a Fortune 500 paper products company in Maine, David left the 8 to 5 corporate job to become an entrepreneur. But before leaving, David had been invited by a group of guys to try his hand as fly fishing and he took them up on it.
A hunter and golfer too, David had a back surgery that would stand to limit some of his more strenuous activities. He had tried fly fishing once with the group of guys and loved it. David remembered seeing a guide in Maine, Cleo Dupwee, someone who was really good and had guided famous folks like Curt Gowdy to name one, and David was amazed at how Cleo could cast a weightless fly such a long way and put it in a coffee can. In David's own words....."I was mesmerized." Though it would lie dormant for a while longer, the fly fishing 'seed' had been planted.
David soon took opportunity to move south to North Carolina and he started his own company, a now very successful company called Emerging Technologies. Now a successful entrepreneur, David is also an avid fly angler. But before he got serious about it he recounts meeting now friend Steve Caldwell, a realtor from Roanoke, VA, and seeing Steve's license plate that had a fly fishing theme on it. David mentioned it to Steve and asked if he fly fished and Steve's response was "yes I do, we ought to go sometime." David took him up on it, and they did a trip to Virginia and got into quite a few fish. David loved it, and in his words David said "I was hooked...."
And such is the case for so many who start fly fishing. Like many young men who grew up playing and enjoying adventures in a creek or stream, looking for minnows, frogs, crayfish, and the like----fly fishing is a "mature" way of returning back to nature just like that. And the best part is that it is all happening and you are growing more and more oblivious to the stress, ringing phone, and all the stuff at the office that makes life so hectic. Its like going to play in the creek in the woods ......."a couch day" as my friend David Carter says.....a day of therapy so to speak that is more enjoyable than going to see a therapist.....
One of the most enjoyable aspects of the sport for me is the career opportunity it affords me. Teaching classes, private lessons on and off the water, doing group classes, guiding fly fishing trips, tying flies, and teaching classes for the University of NC at Greensboro, the City of Greensboro Parks and Recreation Department, as well as A Fly Fishing 101 Class for Guilford Technical Community College are some of the ways I earn a living and help many individuals like David and others start a wonderful lifelong hobby like fly fishing.
Finally, North Carolina is blessed to have a lot of creeks, streams, rivers, lakes, and ponds to play in. Once folks get started in fly fishing, they will find numerous places to enjoy their new hobby. Local venues like Stone Mountain State Park in Wilkes and Alleghany counties, South Mountains State Park in Burke County, Wilson Gorge in Caldwell County, the Mitchell River in Surry County, and the Smith River in nearby Henry County, Virginia-----not to mention the numerous local lakes Townsend, Brandt, Higgins, and local ponds and also fishing in Eastern and coastal North Carolina. The opportunities are nearly limitless......
Don't you think its time for you to fly?