I can vividly remember the moment I fell in love with fly fishing. My Dad and I were standing side by side in a small creek in California, the beautiful blue water slowly moving in front of us. I was so young my head was only able to reach his hips. He was tying a new fly onto his line, and I was standing there, anxious to catch a fish. I was tired of waiting so I said, “Dad, let me fish. I can do it.” He looked at me, and I’m sure his mind was racing. Do I let her go? Let her just cast? She's seven years old. She’s capable right? I’m sure the conclusion was, what’s the worst that can happen, because I heard, “Ok. But keep the rod tip high when you’re casting like I taught you.”

It was a new feeling. A feeling where I was alone in the world with this fly rod. Dad was nearby, but wasn’t guiding my hands and arms to cast the rod. He wasn't giving me step-by-step instructions, and he wasn’t telling me which seam to cast into. I simply used everything he had taught me over the past three years and let my muscle memory take over. I casted into the water in front of us and patiently waited. I was always a rambunctious kid, but fishing taught me composure and serenity. While on the water, I always felt calm. After only two or three casts, I pulled out a nice little rainbow trout. The expression on Dad’s face is a look I have never forgotten. He held a look of pride, but also one of sadness. I had reached a milestone he was sad to see me obtain. I had done it without his help. In his mind, I didn't need him anymore. I was my own angler.

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Photo by Lauren Dunn

This was a pivotal moment for me because of the independence I felt. I had caught this fish all on my own. Ok, sure. My Dad had picked the spot, the rod, the tippet, and the fly. But in my seven year-old mind, it was all me. I had done what my Dad did: catch fish. He was my idol and I was becoming more like him.

Original 1509636529 dun october story l 5

Photo by Lauren Dunn