In the beginning it was a myth to me. Better yet, a mythical creature. For even with little to zero knowledge, I could tell from growing up around individuals apart of the culture, that it was similar to that of a unicorn. It was unique, and for the many years that I fished growing up something like that was too much for me.
We were a family of brutes, plain and simple. A mix of my fathers brothers and friends aboard a 1979, barely operational Bay liner who enjoyed one thing, and one thing only; salmon fishing. It was a group of men (and me) who carried old, thick rods barely being held together, never re oiled, never maintained along with tackle boxes comprised of never ending balls of used line and lures inside. Also, how can I forget the smeared blood from previous kills still seen on garments kept for this occasion; a sight never unseen. So, as a crew of roughnecks we would power through the open waters with an engine the size of a VW Beetle and a gas gauge that didn’t work to find and catch out prey. Those were some great years, and I will always be grateful for those experiences.
Then, the boat broke, and long downtime's between fishing trips began. For me that truly sucked because I loved salmon fishing and watching those down-riggers pop, so it was a hard hit. After that I began to look for something new. Since fishing had always been a passion of mine, my journey outwards into the unknown unexpectedly led me to the art of the fly. This was a find better than gold or diamonds that I have come to realize.
My parents had just purchased their fully circle, retirement home in Sun Valley, Idaho where they had met in 1979 (same year as our salmon boat) and had always dabbled in the art I speak of now. They purchased a series of different rods as well as equipment which led me to turn an eye. I remember telling myself that this looked interesting, without even realizing the area that they had brought me too was centralized within a beautiful mecha. Next, was a bold decision to grab one of their sling packs and roll out regardless of having no experience.
I remember that day clearly. Full of impossible knots I couldn’t untangle along with trees that reached out their arms, snatching my sagging whips out of the air as if a giant waved his hands through clouds. In all honesty, it was the best day, and the worst day of my angling life. BUT, it made its point clear. It told me I had so much more to learn. That it wasn’t done with me, and I not done with it. What a day that was… realizing I had an entire lifetime to pursue something that would take me that much more than that to master. So naturally I said “Fuck It,” and accepted the challenge.
This was my way for a handful summers, winters and weekends during my time back at college. To and fro I went, flying and driving from state to state, fishing hole to fishing hole. It was surreal, and an addiction that could not be stopped. There was nothing that was about to get in my way, not even school. And with one final internship to end my time at Seattle University, let passion and pure interest guide me back to a long lost friend from my days in the Navy and his newly formed company, Fly-Ops.- Pat The Intern