Written by: Danielle Ledgerwood
The only exposure I had to fly fishing growing up in California was the 1992 prime-Brad Pitt-era film A River Runs Through It. I had fished with a normal rod and reel occasionally during childhood, but fly fishing always seemed like a foreign language: mysterious and difficult to master.
Fast forward to two years ago. I got the opportunity to get paid to learn how to fly fish. I worked a 4-day trip with our department over fall break to the Piney River. I was intimidated, learning a whole new sport, but Angler’s Lane, a local fly fishing store/outdoor outfitter, provided professional guides to teach the beginners some casting techniques and principles.
Once you’ve got the basics down, the guides will take you to sections of the river and help you practically implement everything you’ve learned. We explore different sections, hike around with Doug’s dog Brookie, and eventually, you feel a bite on your line. There are very few life experiences that are quite as exhilarating as catching a trout on a fly rod for the first time. There’s the rush of adrenaline, the fight to bring it in, and the swift motion of the net catching the wriggling body of the fish.
Since then, I’ve worked two more fly fishing trips with our department, guided by the experts from Angler’s Lane. I love these trips. Whether or not I even get to catch a fish myself, I love the opportunity that the students are given to learn something new. (I also love cooking meals for the hungry fisherman: bacon and eggs, macaroni and cheese, maybe a big pot of chili.)
As part of the overnight fishing trips, we stay in the lodges privately owned by Doug Lane. In the past, we’ve stayed in Rivenridge on the Piney, and this upcoming fall break, we’re going to the Stonesthrow on the Jackson River. These cozy cabins sit on the banks of these respective rivers, and they serve as a home base for the weekend. When students aren’t out slaying the river, we’re inside, having a fire, playing card games, and sharing meals together. These times of fellowship are some of my favorite memories from past trips.
And of course, at some point during the weekend, as per tradition, we all gather around the TV and watch the classic movie, A River Runs Through It.