Growing up, my idea of the perfect summer vacation was heading up to Michigan and staying at my best friend’s family cottage on Big Fish Lake for a week. She and I would count down the days until we went to ‘The Cottage’ because we couldn’t wait to spend our vacation fishing! Rain, bugs, cold, nothing stood in the way of the opportunity to fish with our dads.
As we got older, we had less opportunities to go fishing, so it wasn’t until about a year ago that my eyes were opened to this sport. When I first met my boyfriend, Aaron, he was working as a local Steelhead/Salmon guide. I had never had an opportunity to fish for trout or salmon before, so I started tagging along with Aaron on his fishing adventures throughout the Midwest so I could learn from him. That ‘nothing can stand in my way’ attitude was stronger than ever as it was wintertime when I first started learning how to fly fish. Between frozen fingers and snags in the overhang of the narrow creek, one could say frustration was becoming a familiar feeling for me, but I was determined to hook into a steelhead that winter.
That day came for me under the most unexpected circumstances. Normally I would be set up to indicator fish a nymph or an egg pattern, but we realized that after driving 40 minutes to our fishing location, that we forgot to bring an indicator for me to use, so egg pattern without an indicator it was. I made one cast and my line went tight and I knew I had a fish on. Miraculously, I was able to land her and snap a quick photograph before we released her. The phone call I made to my dad after was so fun because I could tell he was so proud.
The feeling I had when I landed my first winter run steelhead was all the motivation I needed to wake up at 3:30 am on my birthday in 17 degrees F to go fish for browns in Wisconsin. I ended up hooking into a huge brown, but I was so new to fighting fish on the fly rod that I allowed too much slack and he broke off. I got skunked a whole lot after that brown, but I didn’t let myself get too discouraged. I realize I’m fortunate to be able to go out and enjoy nature in that way, and I knew I would get my shot again once more.
Then it was on to carpin’. Talk about a fun fish to fight! The infamous common carp. I couldn’t resist the urge to get out this past Spring and learn how to fly fish open surf for a fish that is so underestimated. Sure, they might be slimy and smelly, but it’s the fight that makes getting a little slimy worth it in the end.
I’ve hooked into a lot of fish since the last carp I caught in May, but they all somehow managed to spit my hook before I could land them until a couple of weeks ago when I hooked into that trophy brown trout I have been chasing since my birthday last year. He was the most beautiful fish I have ever laid my eyes on and I definitely teared up when we landed him. It was even more rewarding because there was still a small nymph in his mouth where he broke off the previous angler, so we were able to take that hook out of his mouth too and watch him swim off for another angler to possibly catch.
I try to get out fishing as often as I can, but when I’m not able to go, one can usually find me in my office working on my driftwood art. I make custom fish and animal replicas out of driftwood that is collected, by me, off of the shorelines of Lake Michigan. I started working with driftwood a little over a year ago, but never did I imagine people were going to want to start ordering their very own driftwood art to hang in their homes. That’s very flattering as an artist and I’m grateful that I have stumbled upon the fly fishing community. I absolutely love that so many people practice catch and release and I like to think that my art offers a unique and cruelty-free way for people to display their trophies.