August 28th, 2006

The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
This is where our readers tell their stories . . .

Observations of a Non-Angler
By Jean DeSavage (sew drapes), Michigan

When my husband first got interested in fly fishing, I was happy, he would finally have an outlet and new friends and I wouldn't have to feel guilty of my quilting friends. I was resistant to his encouragement to join him in his new hobby because I was determined to succeed as an art quilter.

Then, he started shopping for his new things. Oh, my, all the great items that I could use on my quilts! Suddenly he was happy to tag along with me when I shopped for my art and quilting supplies. Uh Oh, we were now spending a LOT more on our hobby shopping sprees!

Over the past year, as Bill became active in FAOL, I enjoyed the tid bits he forwarded to me from the bulletin board. Still resistant, I was slowly losing ground on my determination to not take up fly fishing, after all, fishing is boring (right, at least that's what I always thought, it was when I went with my Dad and uncle). The first time we went to the Cabela's at Dundee, Michigan, to meet several of the guys on FAOL, I sat at a different table, working on a quilt top, wanting Bill to bond with his new friends (trying not to intrude and make them feel they had to entertain me).

We met everyone again at the spring fishing show in Warren (I think), Michigan and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting and getting to know everyone, what a great bunch of guys. Now I had faces to put to the names Bill was always talking about and a budding desire to be more involved.

When Jack Hise requested aid for the Eagle Village Fish-In he was doing for the girls, we were happy to go and help out. Though I was not much help due to the heat, Bill had a lot of fun helping the girls learn to cast, catch and release their fish. I was slowly getting the bug, wanting to learn, too.

Excitement quickly built the closer we got to August, waiting for the National FAOL Fish-In. Daily, Bill would read the posts from the bulletin board and I could hardly wait for the time to leave. Then our truck insisted on a new transmission! I was dashed, sure we would have to cancel our trip. With determination we decided we would make any sacrifices needed to be able to attend...after all, we'd not had a vacation since 1980.

Once I knew we were going for sure, I let my enthusiasm have full rein! I joined FAOL myself, so I could read all the posts about the Fish-In. I was especially drawn in by Betty Hiner's excitement, and when she offered wading boots for free, I couldn't resist the lure any longer. I was going to become a fly fishing angler, but since the boots were the only equipment I would have, this Fish-In was for Bill to have fun.

Manning the registration desk, at Jack's request, I was able to meet everyone, and feel included in all the activities going on. I was content, until I watched Jim give the casting clinic. I suddenly wanted to learn to cast! The next day, he was helping some of the attendees with their casting and I asked to try it. Oh my, what fun! I used Bill's 6 wt rod and had fun. When Jim realized I didn't have my own rod, he gave me one (a lovely 5 wt from Scientific Anglers). I was now truly hooked, determined to join the casting contest on Saturday.

Friday evening we joined everyone for the Cook Out, looking forward to giving Jack the signature quilt I had made, to thank him for all his hard work, organizing the Fish-In. I had enjoyed the challenge of getting everyone to sign it during the week and still keep it as a surprise. I will never forget the look on Jack's face when we held it up for him to see it! There was also the surprise anniversary gift for Jim and Deanna, what a great time we all had. Everyone enjoyed the tasty brisket smoked by Fat Bill and Ohiotuber, and the dishes everyone contributed to the feast.

Saturday morning I signed everyone up for the casting contest, and decided I wanted to be the last to cast. I used up my three minutes and ended up with a 41 ft, 9 inch cast-beating out my husband! Everyone was very encouraging and cheered me on. I was so surprised that I was floating as I walked back to the table.

All that was left was the drawing for the Redington rod, then we were heading home. That morning I had teasingly told Bill it would be funny if I won the rod, especially since I had been given one the day before! Imagine my surprise when my number was actually drawn and I received the beautiful 5 wt rod. Now I had boots, and two rods, so I guess I am now an angler, though I have never dropped a fly in the water (YET).

I'm looking forward to next year's Fish-In, when I will be telling others about the fish I caught! ~ Jean DeSavage

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