Learning to Fly


I have a confession to make, I’m a 53 year old American male and I’ve never caught a fish. This may seem trivial to some but it can have an effect on a man’s self esteem. So I’ve decided to overcome these feelings of inadequacy by learning the sport of fishing. Not just any type of fishing; I’m going after one of the hardest ways to catch fish, Mountain Stream Fly Fishing.

In the coming months I will not only be learning the skills of an angler but I’ll be planning a 2,000 mile fishing road trip to the North Cascade National Park. This will be a slow tour of mountain streams through the states of California, Oregon and Washington. I’ll be stopping along the way to practice my new found art form and maybe make a few friends along the way. I will photography and document the entire experience and hopefully fulfill my life long dream of catching my first fish.

But this will be more than just another road-trip report. This will be a coming of age story, or middle age for me, as I begin my new life as an independent, creative person. This will be an account of my learning the most beautiful art form in outdoor sports, fly fishing. I’ll learn its fascinating history and discover what the allure is that makes men, and women, wade into the icy waters of mountain streams in pursuit of a limbless cold-blooded vertebrate. It will be an adventure, a learning experience, and an awaking. “Learning to Fly” will become a modern classic of outdoor sports literature.

But even the best laid plans are not enough to overcome the drought that’s occurring in the Western United States. It has reached epic proportions. As I made my way through Northern California, there was a plume of smoke cresting a ridge to the west of highway that filled the air with heavy, white smoke. The lack of rain and extream heat have raised the wildfire danger in the area to “Extream”. As I crossed into Oregon, the smoke slowly cleared and my thoughts turned back to my fishing adventure. That was until I reached my first designation, Hyatt Lake. What was once a large lake filled with future memories of catching my first fish is now reduced to a muddy pond.

About the author

Terry Schmidbauer:

1 Comment

  1. Kristopher Matheson August 3, 2014

    When I was a child I often went fishing with my grandparents and one of my cousins, I can't recall ever catching a fish. Then again I never took it seriously either - I always brought a book along - I'd cast my line and then open my book. Never once did anyone tell me to stop reading or try harder. I've seen people fly fishing before and it has an art to it, it looks graceful and requires skill and perseverance. Good luck with your epic journey, looking forward to your photos and journaling!

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