Ep. 8 – Presently Present

I knew there would be months like this. As soon as I started this project I knew this was going to happen. In fact, as soon as I committed to doing it I was already thinking, “…there are parts of this that are gonna suck.”

Fall in love with masterpieces and also the paint on the floor.

Morgan Harper Nichols

Presently Present

I knew there would be months like this. As soon as I started this project I knew this was going to happen. In fact, as soon as I committed to doing it I was already thinking, “…there are parts of this that are gonna suck.”

But I committed anyway. I figured it would force me to let go. Let go of the stress and the commitments and all of the excuses that keep me from getting out on the water. And I knew there would be times when I had to force myself to go, at the expense of other things in my life.

And my goodness did the stress and commitments pile up in April.

It got to the point of going back to the beginning and asking myself, “What is the point of this?” I can’t get so wrapped up in the fear of failure that I miss out on the journey and the intention. The intention of this whole project is to ensure that I get back in the habit of doing the things I love and taking care of myself. Habits are not always easy. They take work!

So I’ll keep showing up. For myself.

Yes, I am striving to catch a fish every month for 12 months in a row. But the benefits of being on the water, enjoying nature, exploring new places, learning…that is what I love about this whole thing. And I can’t do that if I’m not present.

Thinking about my to-do list, taking care of other people’s problems, bringing work home with me, staying up too late, not eating healthy, allowing myself to become emotionally drained…all these things make it really hard to be present. All these things make it really hard to clear my mind and recognize the beauty around me. And it can waste a perfectly good fishing day!

Walking to the river with a clear mind, uncluttered and empty, makes it so much easier to be present and enjoy my time. I am able to focus on the sound of the water, the feel of the air, watching the fish, sitting in the quiet and waiting, the sound of my line zipping off the water as I set the hook….yep. That is being present.

That is what sustains me. That is what nourishes my soul.

I recently read a quote…

Fall in love with masterpieces and also the paint on the floor.

Morgan Harper Nichols

That is what I’m practicing, here in this moment. All the messiness and unexpected and chaos…the masterpiece wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for the paint on the floor.

So while April reminded me a bit of splatter paint – it was a beautiful month. And I did things that I never expected I’d be able to do. And I survived to see the next month. And, yes, May is expected to be crazier than April.

I fished in new places, found a beautiful spot I’d like to revisit. I was hoping to catch a fish there, but the weather didn’t cooperate long enough to really invest the time needed. Then, I broke my favorite custom built rod trying to get loaded up in the rain and hail and lightening. I was disheartened.

On the last week of the month I went for familiar. I went to my family’s place in the mountains. I sat with my parents and visited with them while we watched the fish jump out the window. It took a dozen or so casts before I was able to hook into one of the younger fish in the pond. Prince nymph never fails.

The exhilaration was palpable. Although he didn’t make a good run, the feisty rainbow jumped from the water a few times. The last explosion was at least five feet out of the water as he tried to rid the fly from his lip. I landed my April fish shortly and snapped my pic. Before I released him back to the water, I heard my mom yell from the balcony, “Let me see!” She wanted to share in my excitement. As I lifted the little guy out of the water and turned to hold him up, she snapped my pic and cheered.

She knew this one was earned, even if it was pulled from our pond. Because I put in the time. And I showed up for everything else in my life. This is just the splatter paint that is part of the masterpiece.

And, man, it doesn’t matter where you are…pulling a trout out of the water is one of the most beautiful things in this world. That day was no exception. I sat for a few minutes more on the bank, watching the fish break the surface. Feeling the spongy earth slowly soak through my clothes. Smelling the air heavy with rain. Hearing the birds’ wings push through the air above me.

I smiled. Took a deep breath and exhaled. I had caught more than my April fish.

Ep. 7 – Consumed

There is so much here, and so much more we didn’t get to, I considered making this one into a series of podcasts. How do you funnel all the experiences, growth, understanding, research, realizations, goals, and opinions of a lifetime of fishing into one podcast? I couldn’t begin to wrap my head around organizing it, so I simply give you the conversation in its entirety.

In this episode, we revisit the journey Jason Hamrick has taken through his lifetime on the water. From the creeks of Wyoming to the Gulf Coast waters, Jason has adventured all over this country. He shares with us some of his most memorable adventures, some of the people he has met, and discusses some of the hot topics in fly fishing.

I can confidently say that Jason is 199% consumed with fishing (when you hear it…IF you hear it, drop me a comment). When I first started fly fishing several years ago, Jason took a day to teach me how to set up my rig and I soaked up all the little tidbits of advice he dropped throughout the day. Teaching me about the line, knots, casting in the brush…it was a lot for one day. After a brief lesson in casting, he couldn’t demonstrate the technique without catching a fish on each cast. We joked that he was the Harry Potter of fly fishing, waving his magic fly rod over the river. The fish basically rise to the surface begging to be caught.

He thinks in fish.

This is an angler who has devoted his life to understanding behavior, habitat, and the effect we have on all of that.

It is a longer one to listen to – but I promise you’ll walk away with a few intriguing stories, possibly a new perspective, and some great strategies to land your next fish.

https://www.facebook.com/cowboydriftersflyfishing

Ep. 6 Trust

Fly fishing challenge for March recap! Peter and I talk about how things went down in March. We also talk about the importance of trust when navigating the deep, dark waters. Listen all the way to the end to catch a sample of some of Peter’s original music! Thank you for continuing to listen and support our project! Love you guys! 🤎💛#wyonthefly

Trust

The first time I went out into the ocean to fish, I had a treble hook embedded in my scalp within the first 15 minutes. The captain said if the cork went down, set the hook! So I did.

As if I was reeling in Moby Dick.

Who knew? I remember watching blood drip off the end of my nose as we held a can of Budweiser on my head to numb it up. The captain wanted to head in to the nearest clinic to have it removed. I refused. This was my first off shore fishing experience and I wasn’t going to let a hook determine the direction of our day.

So after some discussion, my dad went ahead and pushed the hook through. There was quite a bit of tugging and pushing and pulling, quite a bit of cussing from me, and a comment from my dad that I will never forget – your scalp is a lot tougher than I thought it would be! Once he finally pushed it through, the captain provided a pair of rusty wire clippers that my dad snipped the end of the hook off with and pulled it back out. Two puncture wounds remained, and we fished the rest of the day.

This was three years ago, and I was hoping we would avoid a similar situation this year as I loaded my kids onto the boat. This would be Lilli and Lane’s first offshore fishing experience and I was hoping to have a great day. Captain Andy has been with us for the last couple of years and he is much more detailed in his direction and coaching. Plus he is great with kids.

While the beach and ocean are one of my favorite places to spend time, I do not enjoy going into the ocean. The water bothers me…I can’t see what is beneath the surface…and the power and energy of the ocean overwhelms me. I just can’t bring myself to venture out into its’ expanse. So heading out on a boat with my kids on board, while exciting, gave me that same overwhelmed and anxious feeling. My imagination ran wild with what was under the surface. It’s so deep. And dark. And unending.

The deepness is what I was thinking of as I watched my daughter begin casting at the bow, standing at the edge of the deck. She was the first one to haul in the fish. She actually out-fished all of us that day. And I caught my first fish of March! We limited out on Sheepshead and then headed out to deeper water to fish for Speckled Trout and Red Drum. We fished with live shrimp all day and my fingers were sore from pushing the hook through their hard shells.

It was a great day and nobody met the end of a hook!

And, as we climbed off the boat at day’s end, I realized we also safely navigated those deep, dark waters.

What’s it like to trust someone to take your children out into the great expanse of the ocean? It’s like holding your heart cupped in your hands, offering it to the captain of the boat. It is that battle between your level of trust and your desire for adventure. And what would have happened if we had played it safe and stayed on shore? Nothing. And we would have missed out on the experience. The experience of learning and growing together. Facing a few fears together. Putting food on the table. Understanding that sometimes, we are ready to face the deep, dark waters. Maybe we are braver and more prepared and we don’t have to have it all figured out…we can just trust.

The next few months are going to be like those deep waters. We have crazy schedules with three kids in spring sports, graduation, selling (and hopefully buying) a house, getting ready to send Lucie to college, and the end of the school year. I may be uncertain how to navigate these waters, but I have strength and I can be brave. And I trust that everything will be just as it is supposed to be. Even in the deep.

Ep. 5 – Phenomena of Fly Fishing

Jon Cook is a self taught angler here in my hometown. Often times, you will find that someone who is self taught has a different understanding of the skill and concept…because they have learned from many, many mistakes and different approaches. And before you get your waders in a bunch…I have talked to new guides, old guides, new anglers, experienced anglers…and the one consistent thing is that everyone has their own, unique way.

I love it. The guides actually tend to have their go-to flies that seem to be relatively the same. But when you think about it, they are fishing the same water over and over again and they are being paid to get their guests on the fish. Of course they are going to use their tried and true. They want to pull fish out of the water.

Recreational anglers – no matter if they are experienced or novice – tend to have their tried and true but it seems as if they like to color outside the box a little more. Is it because for them it is the challenge of catching something on a new fly? Or maybe just the fascination of trying different patterns? Taking a chance to see what happens? Maybe.

But the difference in each approach is as unique as the difference in each angler. And it works! And that is the beautiful part…everyone has that one thing that they rely on or have confidence in. That’s what works for them.

This month, we talk memorable fishing trips, night fishing, bucket lists, and tying flies. And the patterns that Jon has confidence in. And this fella is a fountain of information when it comes to fly fishing. Perhaps I was profiling a bit based on Jon’s occupation as a science teacher, but he seems to approach fly fishing in the same way as a science teacher would be expected to approach anything he encounters. He wanted to learn more, so he researched, hypothesized, experimented, observed, and drew a conclusion. And we were lucky enough to be in the position to learn from his findings. Join us on this podcast as he shares what he has learned about fly fishing over the last 15 years.

Ep. 4 – Grace

In this episode, I am on the other side of the interview! WY on the Fly Producer, Peter Blomberg, sits down to chat with me about February fishing. We talk about fishing, explore the challenges I faced this month, and discuss what I discovered while making it through the shortest month of the year. #wyonthefly

Grace

I blinked and February was nearly over. Vince was right earlier this month when he told me that the challenge wasn’t catching a fish each and every month this year…the challenge was going to be finding the time to go.

Between kids’ sports and activities and the hurricane force wind and the temps fluctuating between mid 50’s to -30 degrees…February really threw me for a loop. I was legitimately worried that I was going to fail at my own challenge on the second month in!

Then I decided it was the perfect time to get married. Whaaa?! I threw a wedding together in 5 days and married my betrothed. I was tempted to use the opportunity to declare him as my February catch. But decided it would be offensive to confine his greatness to just February…..after all he is the catch of my life.

So I pushed through and tried to find spare moments to get on some water.

What ended up happening however, was finding better luck on the ice. After checking the forecast, I was excited to see that there was a beautiful day in my sights. Little wind and low 50’s. We planned an ice fishing expedition.

Now, I was raised in Wyoming. I know to the depths of my soul that you don’t go anywhere or do anything in the winter without coats, hats, gloves, boots, all the things. But it has been an unseasonably warm winter, the temp was right, and I didn’t want to hike across the frozen lake and be sweating and irritated. So, I dressed in my favorite light hunting pant, an insulated jacket, wool socks and boots, and….that’s it. No gloves, no hat, no buff.

I froze my tail off. The wind picked up and was a steady 25-30 mph with gusts reaching about 45 mph. The temp was nowhere near the 50’s and with the wind chill we were looking at about 15 degrees. We started fishing as the sun’s light started to peek over the hills and inched over the ice. We fished for 5 hours. I can honestly say that nothing pisses me off more than the wind. I know what you’re thinking – buuut, you live in Wyoming. Yes, I am aware. But, man, the unrelenting wind that is blowing so hard that you can feel it permeating the fabric of your insulated jacket, sweatshirt, and skin right down to your bones….that flips my switch.

Needless to say, I probably wasn’t the best company that day. I was cold, windblown, and had to pee but refused to try and accomplish the feat in that kind of wind. It is the kind of wind that doesn’t matter what direction you are facing…when the pee stream hits the air stream it sprays in every direction. Don’t ask me how I know.

But the fish. THE FISH!! They were plump and heavy and happy…beautiful rainbows and cutthroats. I got it done in February, with the help and support of some good friends.

Reflecting back on this month’s experience, I felt a twinge of disappointment in how I approached this challenge. Because I wasn’t able to get it done at the beginning of the month, I let the challenge kind of get to me and I started to feel stressed and burdened. Discomfort.

The whole point of doing this is to make the time to do the thing I used to love so much. Casting, tying knots, marveling at the beauty found in nature, spending time with friends. Practicing, learning, growing. That’s the point. And although I had many enjoyable moments fishing during February – one of which was my bachelorette party – I let it become something that caused stress and anxiety.

But in discomfort, there is growth. Giving yourself grace is one of the most powerful things you can do for yourself. Recognizing that while I’m not where I wanted to be, I am a lot farther than I ever thought I would be…I needed that acknowledgement from myself.

I have fished more in the last 53 days than I have in the previous 365. And that is heading in the right direction. I am learning and I know more now than when I started. I am gathering all these moments while I’m out on the water.

And they are being compiled in my heart. The laughter from my friend downstream, the way the light dances on the water, the infinite shades of pink and orange as the sun sets, watching a fish break the surface to sip flies, the oakey spicy bite of whiskey straight from the bottle.

These are the stories that shape my experience. This is why I wanted to challenge myself to catch a fish every month. It guarantees that I will have more sunsets, more laughter, more rivers. So I breathe. I extend myself grace and accept that I am where I am. And there’s more. I just have to keep going. I’ve already made it farther than I ever thought I would.

And next time I’ll bring gloves.

If you haven’t yet caught a fish in 2022, you can still join us! Whether you have gotten skunked for two months in a row…or just heard about this challenge, jump on board! Pick up the challenge regardless of the month and finish out the year! And if you’d like to do 12 months in a row, start now and finish up with the January/February podcasts. The more the merrier! #wyonthefly

Ep. 3 – Purpose

This month we sit down with Vince Haukereid. At the young age of 21, Vince has already invested a good amount of time adventuring in the wilds of Wyoming. This ambitious young man is driven to help others be successful in their outdoor endeavors. He chats fly fishing in February…and ice fishing!

While Vince is navigating the tricky waters of building a lifestyle that includes guiding, he thrives on mentoring friends and family in the outdoors. His positive nature leaves no room for consideration that he won’t be successful at following his dreams. I’ve known Vince since he was a boy….my favorite part of this conversation was realizing that he has already reached a perspective that many of us work towards our entire lives; creating opportunities for people to connect with each other and the outdoors. Whether he knows it yet or not, these opportunities help create a sense of belonging and togetherness that will undoubtedly direct the journey of others. And that, is guiding on an entirely different level.