A while back my sister-in-law (who I've known since she was 13) told me I was a very lucky man because I still loved to fish (particularly flyfish), hunt for ducks & deer, go shooting with about everything, shoot clays etc AND actually sought out new adventure "Just like when I was a kid".
Well at first I didn't know how to react to her comment; did she mean to say that I never "grew up"?
So I asked for clarification and she said that most men my age LOOK BACK at all the things they enjoyed in their youth that they remember fondly but no longer actually PARTICIPATED in as they aged.
Her husband was a great HS athelete in three sports and an accomplished, well educated, generous, and highly respected man BUT as she was fast to point out that he no longer participated in any meaningful way in activities that brought him great joy in his youth. She explained that in HS she thought all the "blood sports" I enjoyed were foolish from her perspective as a teenager because she didn't understand them "because they didn't require the use of a ball"! I laughed.
Yeah; my brother is an awesome & dedicated Dad... he tried to attend as many of his kids sporting events through HS and college even though he had travel great distances to watch his daughters play field hockey.... but he certainly hasn't personally swung a bat, made a tackle or scored a three pointer in 35 or more years! I sorta feel sorry for him especially because he never fly fished even after I built him a very nice Flyrod on a Fisher GT-40 blank and gave him a nice disc drag, line and several boxes of flies.... He would always say he was too busy when I invited him along.... He loves fishing but claims he's too busy all the time... as if everything else is more important. Oh well; it was HISIFE who told ME I was lucky! Guess she was really thinking of her husband more than me.
Fly fishers MAKE TIME to restore their souls while others hope to bump into their HS buddies and talk about the old days.
The fact that we can CHOOSE to fly fish and enjoy all the out-of-doors pursuits ACTIVELY AND CONTINOUSLY our entire lives IS VERY SPECIAL and this is why I'm so LUCKY!
If you're reading this you are lucky too!
I often think about the friends I've lost over the last many years who fly fished their entire lives.... even when they were sickly and short on time. Two friends were found dead at their vise! A couple drowned in the river or a pond. One was laid to rest wearing his wading gear, vest, favorite hat full of flies, net, paddle (the canoe would not fit in the box) and his pet bamboo!
I have other friends (like Snapper) who after suffering a horrible series of strokes battled hard to be able to fly fish again... Snapper still travels to Canada wear he still throws a long line to Atlantic Salmon in the Brunswick & Nova Scotia (he is now well into his 80's).
My friend Willie while lying in the hospital nearly 20 years ago with cancer had always enjoyed fishing but never fly fished.... one of things he said he never got around to doing... so he sent his wife out to buy him all the magazines & books about it so he could learn everything about fly fishing on the very hopeful presumption he would survive... I first met him a few months later while watching him try to catch rising trout with the totally incorrect fly and a leader that looked like rope! I was eating a sandwich and not yet suited up when he waded to shore and asked me if I fly fished and could I help him as he'd been fishing everyday for more than 2 weeks and had yeat to catch anything!
This is what I also love about fly fishing.... people are always willing to share; whether it be info, technique or a bunch of flies... we are unique as sportsmen (and women) because we are passionate and remember the days when we too were newbies.
Think about Trout fest or virtually any other TU chapter event anywhere and you find folks who want nothing more than to share their excitement of the sport. Of all the activities that modern Americans enjoy it is a fact that most all fly fishers are SELF-LESS BY NATURE.
I think it's impossible to meet someone who fly fishes and not be meeting a friend.