This is something I wrote back in 2013, I’ve been asked to repost it, so here it is, just as I wrote it back then:
“Just getting back from an annual fly fishing trip with my dad, I find a note my father left me tucked away where he knew I would eventually find it. The note reads:
Great Trip West!!! I could not have asked for a better 60th birthday gift than to spend it with you fly fishing in Montana. Those days spent with you are priceless!!
Your mom and I had a great time, it’s always good seeing you.
Take care and keep working toward that dream!!
Love ya, Dad
p.s. Here is a little tip for you for rowing my ass all over Montana!!
As I read this note from my dad, I am reminded of a short conversation I had recently with an individual who when referring to fishing in general, brought price-per-pound into the picture. Price-per-pound in which I can only figure means that the price of fishing, whether it be boats, tackle, rods, reels, or anything else that may be used to catch a fish outweighs the actual poundage of fish caught. But to me, and to others like me, we do not put a price-per-pound on fishing, and if we did, the outcome would be ‘priceless’.
For me, fishing goes back all the way to when I was a small boy. I can remember my grandparents coming to visit my family when we lived in Arizona. My grandfather took me into a Smitty’s store, which may not even exist today, and bought my sister and I a Zebco rod and reel combo for us to use when we came to visit in Michigan. I remember that rod and reel plain as day, the reel was small and brass in color, but looked like a typical spincast reel, the rod was 5’6” in length, it truly was beautiful and ugly all at the same time.
I often do not remember things of my childhood, but I do remember the times I spent fishing with my uncle Ron on Gray Lake from a dock, or the times with my Grandpa Cooley on his jon boat fishing for bass, or on my grandparents pontoon with all of my cousins bobber fishing for bluegills and crappies and perch. When I first learned to fly fish, I was self taught when it came to the casting and educated by the Kalamazoo River and the shiners and chubs that called it home. I used flies that I had tied myself and only my mother would have probably call them masterpieces, but the fish in that dirty river attacked them on the surface with an aggression that I would soon come to love. The dry fly fisherman in me was born!
I continued on with fly fishing into college and dove so deep into the obsession that if I wasn’t at work or at class, you could bet I was on a river or a lake fishing for trout. One particular river took me to the next stage in my love for fly fishing, it was more like a river I had only read about out West, and hooked me even deeper. Toward the end of college I began thinking what I really wanted to do with my life, and fly fishing was what I really wanted to do more than anything, so when I left college I went out West and became a fly fishing guide in the state of Montana, my dream job…only one season in and loving my job and life, I did a complete 180, I joined the military, always intending one day to return to what I loved.
There are people out there that see fishing as a pointless task, there are people out there that see fishing as a waste of time and money, and then there are the people out there that don’t see fishing as just a hobby at all or something to do on weekends, it gets in their blood, the passion runs deep, and fishing becomes a way of life, not just a part of life.
Getting back to the price-per-pound talk, put a price on the memory that is created when a child gets to spend time with their parent or grandparent sitting in a boat or on a dock, watching a bobber, or flinging a fly, or cranking in a crank bait. Put a price on all those hours spent in a row boat alongside your grandmother catching bluegills on a fly rod while they are on their beds, like my friend Jon did when he was a kid. Put a price on the stronger bond you get with your dad, when you spend days on end, floating down a river, or wading a small stream, netting each other’s fish, and drinking a cold beer in front of a fire at the end of a long day on the river. You can add up the price of all that gear, but if the love is truly in your heart for the reason why you’re there in the first place, then no matter how you put it into an equation; boat+rod+tackle or fishing trip+boat+guide+plane ticket, the answer will always be ‘priceless’.
Most of my fishing these days will involve a fly rod in my hand and to me it’s not just about the fish that you are trying to catch, it’s about the beauty of the land around you, the company of the people near you, and the journey that you ultimately take. If you indeed see fishing as a price-per-pound hobby, then you will probably never ever get what it is truly about…”
Now in 2016, I find myself living back in Montana and back in the fly fishing industry, doing what I love to do. I’ve had the honor to take my dad down the Smith River, and both my parents down the MO. Fishing to me, continues to be ‘priceless’!