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It was a cool and sunny day in East Tennessee on the South Holston River when I picked up a fly rod for the first time. Robert, a dear family friend, invited my dad and me to fly fish with him along his favorite stretch of the river. After a quick lesson we headed down the road from his front yard and just a few hundred yards into the river.
Somehow, in spite of my feeble casting attempts, I was able to hook a small rainbow trout. I will never forget the feeling! The tug of the line, the bend in the rod and the sheer joy and sense of accomplishment when I released the beautiful, small fish back into the water. My life truly changed at that moment, as it marked the start of my passion for fly fishing.
As an instructor and guide, I’m often asked if it’s difficult to sit back and just watch as my students are fishing and I’m simply watching, changing flies or getting lines untangled. The answer is always the same. I live virtually through every fish that’s caught so I never feel as though I’m not fishing myself. It’s especially the case when it’s someone catching his or her very first trout on a fly. I am able to relive my special moment all over again, standing in the South Holston River and hooking into my first rainbow.
Here are a few photos of some priceless moments and amazing smiles as I watched and helped other beginners experience their first trout on a fly.