“Flick the paintbrush Ieva, paint those walls, splash them” – words that will be with me forever. I was very lucky to have a professional fly fishing instructor to teach me everything from A to Z; now I can say: I had it easy.
A while back I met a fishing guide, someone who was entirely different from everyone I knew; it wasn’t until later that I realised why and how someone can be so relaxed, so peaceful and so in touch with nature. I will always hold him responsible for this new addiction of mine, called fly fishing. Andy has challenged me on learning how to fly fish and I will be forever grateful for it.
For somebody who had never held a fly fishing rod in their hands and had zero knowledge about this method, I was surprisingly keen on having a go at it! Perhaps it was overconfidence? Third fly fishing video on Youtube in, I thought to myself how easy it all looks. In my head it was something along the lines of “go to the bank, wave the fly line in the air and you have yourself a fish.” Little did I know…
So there we were, Andy, Simon – a good friend of ours – and me, putting waders on and heading to the banks of the River Dove.
Five minutes into walking and I was already getting negative about the day ahead; I think it’s safe to say that the question “Hhow far we have left to go?” was asked more than once!
I already knew that this day was all about me getting a grip on how to use the ‘French leader’ – words that at the time didn’t mean anything to me, but it didn’t stop me, of course, from asking questions and questioning the knowledge of my two companions, because after all, I did watch a dozen videos about it.
Once we were on the stretch that my instructor was happy enough with, my life changed. I was so impatient to catch my first fish that I couldn’t wait for him to finish showing me the demonstration and the step-by-step instructions (I’m not very good with listening and following instructions). It didn’t take very long for me to catch my first fish, a beautiful, tiny grayling. I don’t think I ever have smirked as much as I did then. The sound of the river and that first tug on a line was enough to push any stress, any worries, far from the mind and it was just what I needed!
The anxiety that I had every day disappeared like magic; I felt free, I felt like I’ve been reunited with nature for good.
So I kept casting, striking and landing fish after fish. Insanely happy and proud wouldn’t even describe it, it truly was magical, but it wasn’t until my first fish on a dry fly that I truly fell in love with fly fishing and wild brown trout.
I waited patiently for Andy to let me know when it was the ideal time to go and catch a fish on a dry fly instead of the French leader, and when the time came, it all started. I was standing in the middle of the river watching the fish rising around me, there were hundreds of them! The difficulty for me was which one do I go for?
I missed take after take and got frustrated with myself; my casting became worse, which made me even angrier, I was winding myself up with every poor cast that I made. Andy requested that I go to the bank and relax for a few minutes (I think he was either scared for his life, or he didn’t want me to thrash the water so badly that there would be no fish left!), so I sat down, had a glass of wine and thought about my casting lessons in the field with him.
I remember him trying to explain to me about how I needed to not be so aggressive with the rod, but instead be delicate and use it as a paintbrush – he told me to splash the walls in front of me and behind of me, how I have way more time while the fly line is in the air than I think. I remembered all of it, calmed down, and went back to the same spot where I was just 30 minutes ago in the hope that the same fish would rise again. Sure enough, I saw this wonderful swirl in the water that made me make the best cast of the day. And both fish and I were hooked.
Fly fishing is not about catching the fish for me any more; it’s a therapy. A day on the river gives me a sense of freedom and an emotional release. I can now happily say that I am truly in love with both fly fishing and the person who taught me.