Story last updated at 2/25/2009 - 11:35 am
In the past decade and a half, the art of fly-fishing has blossomed in popularity in the United States. In fact, fly-fishing has become widely recognized as the fastest growing segment of recreational sport fishing. Known for its poetic form and graceful style, fly-fishing caters to both men and women of all ages.
Recently, through the contributions and efforts of industry organizations such as Trout Unlimited, Federation of Fly Fishers, Discover Fly Fishing and local 4-H chapters, the sport is now also experiencing an increase in popularity among families and youth groups.
As an industry professional myself, I believe some of the reasons that fly-fishing has witnessed such tremendous growth and popularity over the years is because fly-fishing is more than just going out, reeling in fish or two and then calling it a day.
Fly-fishing, although one of the most effective methods of sport fishing, also offers the angler more than just an opportunity and a means for placing a fish on the grill or a meal on the table. As Roderick Haig Brown stated so eloquently in "A River Never Sleeps," written in the 1940s, "I still don't know why I fish or other men fish, except we like it and it makes us think and feel."
Speaking from experience, having fly-fished for well over forty years, I must admit that I now fully understand and appreciate Roderick Brown's profound yet simple statement.
On one end of the spectrum, fly-fishing offers me a calming peace of mind, a form of relaxed concentration and deep focus that is borderline intoxicating. It also offers me the opportunity to enjoy and observe our local wildlife at my pace or leisure, or a chance to take pleasure in a simple hike, escaping with my fly rod and a sack lunch along a quiet stream embraced by spruce and hemlock that peacefully unfolds beneath glacial spires that tumble to the sea.
And on the other end of the spectrum, fly-fishing offers me personal levels of aspirations: to become a better angler, a more technical caster or a more innovative fly tier. Fly-fishing also offers me the opportunity to contribute and give back to the art and sport as an educator or advocate of stream conservation and catch-and-release programs, or as a writer and casting instructor.
But more importantly, fly-fishing offers me the personal rewards found by sharing quality time with my family and friends.
For me, it's these quality times shared with family and friends and the friendships that I've made along the way that make fly-fishing so special to me. Together, they make fly-fishing more than just an act of catching fish; they make me think, feel and reflect.
To know that my daughters will forever remember the excitement and joy of riding on my shoulders because they were too small to fit into waders while they shamelessly waved a fly rod through the air as we pursued salmon in Montana Creek Canyon - that is special to me. Or to share the enthusiasm while witnessing the sparkle in their eyes when they proudly released their first fly caught Dolly Varden - that is special to me.
I'm sure we all have our own personal reasons why we choose to fish with a fly but it is because of these personal reasons that make us think and feel that make fly-fishing so special - and it's catching!