The past year has come and gone, like the waters that once grazed my waders from the rivers and streams I have fished in 2009. It has been one of rekindled passion and adventure for me. Though, I was never able to fish out of state, my very own backyard here in Montana has so many special places that, arguably, hands down holds some of the most scenic and amazing rivers and streams around. Why travel 1000's of miles when I have some of the best fly fishing venues in the world at my fingertips, less than a days drive away?! Fly fishing the months leading into 2009 and year in whole will be experiences I will never forget. I have learned so much about the sport and fundamentals of fly fishing, and more importantly, about myself during my ephemeral yet perpetual angling quest. It's hard to believe that only a year ago, I didn't know the difference between a streamer, wet fly, or a top water fly and how to technically fish with each one. Now, I know to dead drift nymphs and drys, strip and swing streamers, naturally presenting them to their predators. Then, I had no idea how to tell the difference between a mayfly, caddis, or stonefly. Now, I understand and recognize the difference between most aquatic insect species, the life cycles each incurs, and the fly patterns that resemble each stage. My brain was a sponge, soaking up every last tidbit of knowledge it could handle without sensory overload. I now own a respectable pile of fishing magazines, which I am addicted to reading, usually reading them twice thoroughly before tossing them into the backseat of my car. I've resorted to buying easily accessible fly boxes, filling them incessantly with the hottest flies as if they are little multi-colored pills I use to get my fix for the fishing addiction I indulge in. My car has begun to fall apart from the numerous trips out to Belt Creek, the Missouri, and the occasional trips to Bozeman. As rickety and rackety as it sounds, it still wears the mud and dirt as well as the Trout Bum bumper sticker proudly. Most of all, the sport, the hobby, the art of fly fishing has given me a deeper understanding of who I am, and the passion that resides within a special place for something I never knew I had. I once felt this passion in college for my career choice as a graphic designer, and now to feel it again for something new is very exciting for me! I wrote in a blog post back in early August that touches on how fly fishing has affected me.
...the last year of fly fishing Montana's streams and rivers solo has "changed me". This may sound ridiculous to some, but I somehow have a deeper understanding of my life and what matters to me. I find it amazing that an instrument such as the fly rod and this magnificent playground God has made for us for the sport somehow puts things into perspective. Don't ask me how I know this, but it's just that everything seems so clear and focused, natural and intuitive when I'm on the river. Nothing else comes close to what and how I feel when I'm in this setting.
To touch on this a bit more, it's like I have found a soul mate. Yes, I believe the river is my soul mate. I have never felt more alive when it is just me and the water. It's a feeling difficult to describe, but it's one that goes straight to my soul. Therefore, soul mates we are and will be forever.
Moreover, this year has given me friendships accumulated through the fly fishing world. The guys over at Big R Fly Shop have indispensable knowledge for the sport and have been kind enough to share it with me. I have been able to relate to my cousin Jacob whose passion is equal to or greater than mine, in a way we were never really able to. Truthfully, it was he who somehow sparked the fire inside of me to pick up the fly rod again, and to really give an honest attempt at teaching myself how to fly fish. In return, Jake and I have been able to share our passion for the sport together, something I view as invaluable.
I am excited for what 2010 has in store for me! I can only imagine the places I will fish, the fish I will catch and who I will experience it with. I plan on learning to tie my own flies this winter, starting with streamers, then working my way to larger dries and nymphs. Being the creative type that I am, I'm excited for the path fly tying has to offer. I've longed for the feeling of achievement for catching a trout on a personally created fly. I am hoping to post in this blog more often than what I did last year, I have found I actually enjoy writing about something that passions me so, another positive that has come just from picking up a fly rod. I hope that the readers this blog reaches enjoy reading about what makes me the happiest in this world and can vicariously live through my experiences with the feelings and aptitude I live and experience along the way. To the readers who currently follow me on my journey, I can only express sincere gratitude for letting me tell you my stories, through my eyes, of the adoration and devotion I have for art of fly fishing. Cheers to the new year and to all the fish tales/tails it brings!
John Thomas Ewald
aka The River Bank Robber