2010, the year I graduated from high school and watched all my friends go to university or trade school while I continued my job at the fly shop in town. That could come off as negative or regretful but I promise you that’s absolutely not the case. The fly fishing industry felt like a cushion to me, it was where I felt and still feel in my element. At 17 years old it was so difficult trying to explain what it’s like to be completely obsessed with the art of fly fishing, but at work I could feel comfortable spilling a plethora of words that would sounds like a foreign language to most people and get paid to do it. I did my best to describe to friends and family that my life revolved around studying the science behind poking fish in the face with a piece of metal only to put them back where they came from. Fast forward one year and I thought I’d try my hand at the whole “guiding” thing when the shop needed an extra helping hand with a big group of guests. I was nothing short of terrified, but after releasing the first fish of the day for a happy client I was ecstatic. “That was the biggest rainbow I’ve ever laid my hands on”, he said after watching a fish close to the double digit class make its way back to the depths. I have never received a high-five that stung as hard as that one, but I will never forget the feeling of making someone’s day one that they will always remember. Maybe all I did was maneuver the boat, drop the anchors, pick his fly and tie his knots but I felt like I was part of the equation nonetheless.
Hit the fast forward button again, now we’re a few years and a hell of a lot of odd jobs further. Plumbing? Gave it a go. Wedding DJ? Check. Catering Business? Tried it. 3 years as a touring singer/songwriter? Why not. The latter made me a good amount of money and brought a ton of joy, but it still wasn’t what I felt I was truly passionate enough about to make a lifestyle out of. Why did I always keep going back to the fly fishing industry? It dawned on me one day that maybe I was running from what I truly love in hopes of finding some sort of a “normal” life. The idea of what a normal lifestyle is depends entirely on who you talk to and how you look at it. Do I think it is wrong that people have office jobs and keep their hobbies separate? Of course not, but do I think that we were put here to spend 40 hours a week indoors in to make a bi-weekly paycheck even though we despise every second of it? No.
Gas station sunglasses & mustard coloured waders were fashionable in my opinion at the time
I enjoyed my time in the music industry. I put out my own record, met some great people and made some solid money, but I knew deep down that the situation I was creating was not the one I truly wanted. I loved playing music, but I never loved it as much as the outdoors. Being on stage was a rush, but not the same rush that I get from having a memorable moment on the water. I make my own bed at night, and I knew I had full control over how I decided to make a living but couldn’t push myself to make the commitment to follow my heart back to fly fishing. One night sitting on opposing couches, my girlfriend (now fiance) said out of the blue that she wanted to become a fly fishing guide and was looking at attending a guide school in Montana. She is a very effective angler, fly tier and seems to pick up on things in the blink of an eye. I never told her a thing about guiding other than I used to do a bit of it when I was younger, but she seemed pretty dead set on her new idea. So what did she do? dove head first. She started applying to lodges, went to guide school and spent free time perfecting knots in front of the TV at night. It was inspiring to watch, and was also a huge wake-up call. If she could go off the deep end and pursue something she was passionate about why couldn’t I? I got on the phone the next day and told a few friends in the industry that I wanted to get back into guiding in hopes of finding a job in short time.
The stars aligned and we managed to get a job for the same lodge, things began to feel right again. I could be in the outdoors working hard every day, but gaining satisfaction and releasing the feeling the I had kept bottled in for so long. I had to re-learn some things and just plain learn other things in guiding (like it is possible to get hit in the shoulder by a fly 4 times before noon), but I felt like I had made a step in the right direction. Why did I spend so much of my time trying to get away from something that I truly wanted? Because I was too scared of what other people would think. Sometimes we let other peoples’ opinions dictate the way that we live our lives, feeling as though we should be juggling more than we know how trying to make everyone happy. The reality of it is that you will never go through life making everyone else happy while still fulfilling your own personal needs. Why did I care so much if some people didn’t approve of leaving what I had in pursuit of something else? At the end of the day, it didn’t really matter.
As I sat down on this Friday night after 5 days of camping to write an instructional article to post in the morning, I somehow ended up with this. It was something I felt I needed to write about because I spend so much time thinking about how I can constantly get better at what I do. Not just financially, but how can I branch off into new aspects of the sport that I find appealing. Before you make the assumption that I’m preaching to quit your day job, please understand that’s not at all what I’m going for. The idea sparked after reading a lengthy Facebook post about how one hated their job so much as if someone was going to step in and hand them a new one. If you want something, pursue it instead of daydreaming about what things could be like. We take for granted that we’re going to see the light of day tomorrow, that we’re going to live long enough to retire and make the mistake of thinking that we will always have time to do things we really want. Thank you to everyone that takes the time to read these articles, as always feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. Until next time!!