I recently had the pleasure of being a guest on the Podcast WadeOutThere, with Jason Shemchuk. The WadeOutThere site offers, artwork, blogs, podcasts, and more. You should really go check it out, like now! However, during our conversation his tag line is "Fly Fishing is Special, Not Elite". Those words resonated with me. It reminded me about why I love this sport so much, but also the need to protect it and maintain positive relationships with those within it.
What Does That Quote Mean to Me?
I love this quote. It directly goes back to the fact this fly fishing community generally does support each other. When I first started fly fishing, I had the naïve perception the sport was full of elitists, who thought they were better, and were unwilling to divulge information to help. Instead, I have found it is a community of people who believe in fish handling ethics, being mindful of spawning habits, leaving no trace, stream etiquette, stream clean up, monitoring water temperatures for fish safety, stream restoration, as well as not “spot burning”. With anything in life, there are always a few bad eggs that make the rest look bad. Overall, the people I have met through fly fishing are kind and generous. They are willing to give you a fly, tell you what is working for them on the stream, or talk strategy about a given river you find them on. Quite honestly, without the relationships forged in this industry, I would not be in a position to fish successfully, guide, or write a blog.
The Concern of Others Not Treating it as Special
Unfortunately access is becoming a huge problem. This is what also makes fly fishing so unique. You travel and fish some remote and pristine areas. Recently, access has become more sparse and limited. I respect peoples private property, especially if they have actual signs up, or trees spray painted. There are even apps out there to track what is public vs. private, to help the casual outdoorsperson understand where they can and can't go.
Although, if you knock on a door, introduce yourself, are polite and genuine, you would be absolutely amazed what may open up in regards to stream access, likely affording you the chance for that stream to become your special place that you cherish. I find that many times the landowner will grant access, and really appreciate you stopping in. For a fly fisherman to knock on a landowners door, and ask for permission, says a lot about your character and desire to do things the right way. Many "No Trespassing" signs go up to avoid general trespassing, hunting, bonfires, tubers, etc. that put the landowner or family at risk. Fly fisherman don’t pose that threat, I believe.
I have seen far too many signs going up as of late. This problem has really taken away some great sections of water, specifically on the water I guide, on the Gunpowder River. Some people, outside of the fly fishing community, have abused the land. They forget one of the core tenets of this quote. What we have is "special", therefore you do not ruin it. I have heard stories of people stumbling into houses of landowners drunk, asking to use phone, or bathroom. It is an unfortunate reality that adversely effects those who do appreciate the resource.
Therefore, this sport is special, we need to all do our part to protect it. Fly fishing is my release and what brings me back to being centered. In this last year plus, from this pandemic, my job, and personal struggles at times, I have been reminded that life is hard! Having a hobby, like fly fishing, where you drift away from the problems of the real world just for a little bit, is worth its weight in gold. Any person reading this blog knows what I mean. If you have a trip with a friend coming up, guide trip, destination trip, or just a simple after work trip, you know exactly what I mean. Joe Humphreys said in his documentary “Live The Stream” that “the key to life is having the next adventure to look forward to”. I interpret this to mean that the days go by quicker and we can mentally get over roadblocks when we know we have something coming up. We live for our next opportunity to decompress and get away from it all.
That is what is special about this sport to me. We all can "Wade Out There" and give it a shot. There is nothing elite about strapping on waders, tying up boots, and wetting a line. However, it is special and should be protected at all costs. We are blessed to be afforded the opportunity to do so occasionally. Therefore, what we all should do is protect our resources, do the right thing, and advocate for conservation of this precious sport.
Tight lines my fishy friends!
To check out my episode on the WadeOutThere podcast, with Jason, check out this link: