Outdoor Writers Association of America
This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

May 29th, 2000

Here come 'da judge!'

Back in the middle of May we had a really nice thing happen. We don't usually give many private casting lessons and I am not sure how this one came about. I do know we got an email asking if we would help out because this person had fly fished many years ago in Alaska and wanted to learn fresh water fly fishing. We have a nice park with a pond near us and we agreed we would do it.

We met on a pleasant afternoon, right after lunch, introduced ourselves, carried a few rods and reels from the parking lot to a bench beside the pond. Ducks, most with very tiny babies in tow, were paddling about, interspersed with a couple dozen Canada geese. The occasional take-offs and landings only added to the specialness of the day. Besides I have a thing about baby ducks.

In response to one of Castwell's usual questions, "Why do you want to learn fly-fishing?" The reply was, "I really want to. My dad used to take me fishing and I did some fly-fishing back then, but I have the time now and have made up my mind. I can afford it. I got divorced about three years ago and I need to catch up. My kids are older now, and I deserve some time for what I want to do. That's why I want the lessons. I need to make up for lost time."

Well, that certainly satisfied us and we taught her how to string up a six weight rod. I handed it to her and the teaching got underway. It was gratifying to teach someone who was such a great student. Trust me, folks have the ability to learn at a different rate than others. She was really following instructions and learning fast. This is rare and a delight when found.

I guess we spent three hours there, the lady judge, Castwell and I. She learned the basics, knew when she had made a mistake and a pretty good idea how to correct it. She was not used to casting of course and we made sure we did not 'burn out' her casting arm. She had a fine afternoon. She 'made up for lost time.'

Sure, she has a long way to go, but now she at least knows where the trail is. What impressed me was her attitude. Not a common one. Forgive me, not a common one for a gal. Women may have many reasons to learn fly fishing. Nothing wrong with them either, but those reasons do not always compel them to absorb the game as quickly. Attitude and a real desire to understand fly fishing are necessary to get the job done.

We each seek that which works for us in life and that goes for our recreation as well. Fly fishing is not just another way to catch fish. It is a manner of living, a way of life, a creed. Fortunate are those who have found it; rare are those who recognize it.

To our student, the judge, we hope you spend a summer or two following the dots on the old map your dad gave you. Remember the secret is in the journey.

To those few who have found fly fishing and recognize it for the impostor it is, enjoy, and try to let a few others in on it. It only gets better. ~ LadyFisher

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