We all have our own unique stories of how and why we started fly fishing. Maybe a close friend or family member introduced the sport to you, maybe you wanted something new and decided to learn on your own, or maybe you were just born a fisherman. I believe every angler has had their own journey and no two people share the same story. As you really dig deep into your passion, you realize that it was the small details here and there that lead to the life long addiction we all share so passionately.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Like many other Colorado families, my family had always spent a lot of time outdoors hiking,camping, and occasionally fishing together on weekends and certain holidays. I recently stumbled across an old photo album in my basement containing a few pictures of me holding trout when I was only about four or five, though I cannot seem to recall any memory of these trips. It wasn’t until I was seven years old that I was introduced to fly fishing. My grandpa, my dad, and a close family friend organized a trip to continue family tradition and teach me the ways of the fly. I can remember that trip as being one of my fondest memories, even to this day. Something about the excitement of fooling a surprisingly intelligent fish on an artificial, hand-crafted “bug”, only to release it back to it’s watery home, intrigued me.

As the years passed, I continued to learn more and more. Special dinner nights at my grandpa’s house once a week allowed me to perfect my cast in the local park, learn to read water during walks along the South Platte, and, during the winter months, learn to tie flies while snow flurried outside the windows . Over the years I accumulated my own fly rod, waders, and small tying kit. This opened the door even wider for my own explorations. I began to spend a lot of time at the local neighborhood ponds, chasing sunfish and bass until it was too dark to see. Several times each summer, my mom allowed me to go on more weekend adventures with my grandpa on various rivers such as the South Platte, the Arkansas, and the  Yampa. Each outing sparked more curiosity and fed the ever-growing flame of my newly found passion.

By the time I was in sixth grade, I was absolutely obsessed with anything to do with fishing. I spent more time on the water than I did in my own home. Day after day, I worried my mother when I “lost track of time” and came home much later than I was supposed to (Okay, maybe I still do this…). I was able to connect with a few other kids who shared the same interest in fishing that I did and it created some of the strongest friendships I have ever had. To this day, I still go fishing with some of the same kids I did from when I was only 12 years old.

Maddie

My grandpa and I on the banks of the Madison River, MT.

During my seventh grade year, I wanted to take my skills to the next level. Constant research and fly tying every single day allowed me to hone my skills. During the summer of 2011, my grandpa took me to the Yellowstone area for over a week. Many fish were caught and we had a great time. Around Christmas of 2011, I started the beginnings of this blog as a small page on Facebook. My parents recognized that there was no turning back at this point…I was addicted. My grandpa and my dad pitched in on a Winston fly rod blank. My family friend, Rick, helped me customize and build it.

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Scoring a fish in my first America Cup on the Blue River.

In April of 2012 I competed in my first competition and was given this website as a birthday gift. Now I had something to do with fishing even when I wasn’t fishing. I posted random nonsense that humor me today when I go back and reflect on those ramblings from the past. Another trip to the Yellowstone area with my grandpa, this time with more knowledge, gave me more confidence in my abilities as I landed fish (a lot of them) on flies I had tied myself. Fall came and I was selected to join a competitive team in the America Cup. We were the youngest anglers in the tournament and we learned so much from the pros that we fished alongside. I started competing more and more, discovering new techniques and information to absorb over the next few months.

Trouts

Trout’s Fly Fishing, where I spent my summer working the shop along with some great guys.

Freshman year flew by and the Summer of 2013 came along. During a routine trip to the fly shop, I was offered an opportunity to apply for a summertime job. I gained so much knowledge from working the shop all summer, it was truly a blessing to have had the opportunity to work somewhere where I didn’t have to shut out my own thoughts to focus on other things completely different from what was already on my mind. Come Fall, I started my own team for the America Cup and had yet another great learning experience with some great people. The past three years have been incredible and have given me so many amazing opportunities that many people would die for.

Today, I still find myself in the same position as when I stumbled through a field in those over-sized waders and boots at such a young age. Curiosity and the thirst for new knowledge still drive me each and every time out on the water. I still learn something new with each and every cast I make, and I believe this to be true for every angler. Fly fishing has taught me one of the most valuable life lessons I’ve ever learned. Both life and fishing can be difficult at times, but it is not until we truly connect with the world in which we live that we are able to catch a fish. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’ve decided that I need to start this year off right and thank a handful of the countless people who have made these past few years so incredible. First off, I would like to just take a moment and thank my parents for supporting me and helping out however they could. You guys have done so much for me and I am am blessed to have such a loving family that cares so much about me. I am so appreciative of all the countless miles you have driven, time you have taken out of your own lives, and positive encouragement you have given me along the way. I love you guys. Secondly, I would like to thank my grandpa. You introduced me to this amazing sport and have passed on your knowledge and passion. Every moment of precious time we have spent ,both on the water and off, have taught me some important lessons that I will use for the rest of my life. To the rest of my family, thank you guys for also supporting me along this journey with motivational thoughts and love. I would also like to thank all of my friends for always being there if I need fishing buddies,  for sharing their friendship, and helping create some great memories. Lastly, I would like to thank all of the other awesome people who have sponsored, taught, or contributed along the way. There are truly some amazing people in my life and I could have never even dreamed of how awesome my life is because of them.

cold

My dad and I getting ready to fish the Yampa River in Steamboat Springs,CO on a freezing winter day.

Bros

A close fishing buddy whom I’ve fished with since 6th grade, Cody Kirby.

SwagginAndJaggin

Fishing the Blue with one of my closest friends, Tyler Boxleitner.

 

Very stoked to find out what is to come of the future and I wish everyone tight lines and wet nets as we dive into another great year. Happy New Year everyone!