Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Welcome to the Revolution Part 1: Lessons in Fly Fishing Humility

I am the 4th generation in a very specialized fly fishing family.  My family has had a cabin near some of the best small high country trout streams in Colorado for over 60 years.  As a result the local trout tremble at our name.  On his home turf Grandpa could paste anybody.  The man had a renegade and he knew what to do with it. 

I started fly fishing at 12 but had never fished with anything but a bamboo rod with an automatic reel until I was 18.  Didn’t really know what a nymph was until I was in college.  And I still feel inadequate fly-fishing for trout anywhere else.   

In my second year at the University of Oklahoma I met a guy who was a REAL fly fisherman.  He tied his own flies, had expensive gear and even knew how to nymph!  In secret I harbored a combination of jealousy and scorn for his fly fishing sophistication.  Eventually he talked me into going with him to a stocked trout stream just hours from Norman OK.  You don’t believe me do you?  I barely do and I was there.

It was an lesson in humility.  You see, I really and truly did think I was hot stuff and had already caught hundreds of trout to prove it.  Reality hit within minutes of wading in.  I had talked a good game on campus and being clueless hurt quite a bit.  It wasn’t all bad though.  Watching him catch a couple of trout on nymphs was pretty interesting.  Not nearly as interesting as when he caught a catfish though.  That catfish was akin to the extremely popular foreign exchange student in high-school.  You remember the one…she wasn’t even that pretty but her accent sure was exotic.  

The next summer I was doing an internship in Wichita Kansas.  It’s quite a walk to the nearest high country trout stream.  And that catfish was giving me an itch.  A book of fly fishing for bass and some plastic poppers was the only scratch available.       

After a couple of days flailing and frothing the local lake my confidence had withered to nothing. Perhaps I was daydreaming or perhaps I was putting serious thought to quitting fly fishing for good.  My popper just sat there dead still, rubber legs waving gently to and fro.  Any popper guy can tell you what happened next. 

Before I released her, my first largemouth bass looked me right in the face and said clear as day “Welcome to the revolution, now go change your underwear”.   

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