Sometimes You Need To Go It Alone
I came to fly fishing by way of marriage.
It pains me a little to admit it – a boy I dated introducing me to a sport I consider part of me now – but we all arrive at our favorite activities somehow. Mothers and fathers pass along hunting or skiing. Siblings convince us to play football or run cross country. Friends introduce us to backpacking or mountain biking.
And so on a 20-degree day outside of Laramie, a boy I knew from our college ski team took me fishing in 35-mph wind. He planted me on the banks of the Laramie River as clouds began to spit sleet and told me to try and get the fly in the water. Then he walked off.
I caught a dead porcupine that day. It was halfway submerged in the late-winter flows, and there I stood waiting for that boy to come back and unhook me from my very first catch.
Yet I persisted. That boy from the ski team became a fly fishing guide in Alaska, and then my fiancé, and then my husband. He improved at teaching, and I at fishing. In the 13 years since that day, we’ve chased trout in Scotland and bonefish in Mexico. We’ve cast to the banks of Boysen Reservoir for carp and spent more hours than I can count knocking ice from our lines on the Wind River. I catch fish now – sometimes even more than him.
But since that day on the Laramie River, I’ve almost never fished without him. I rig my own lines and taper my own leaders, but he inevitably tells me where to go and what to use. And why wouldn’t he? He guided fishermen for a living, and let’s face it, when a wife grows frustrated enough to scream obscenities at a river in the middle of nowhere, a husband’s option is to either help or hide. He generally chooses help.
But his helpfulness has led to dependence, and it’s something I’ve vowed to break. From now on, that boy from my college ski team is going to drop me off by the river again. I’m going to choose my own flies and scan the river for the best riffles and holes. I’m going to keep my language under control.
And I’m going to catch my own fish.