I grew up a country boy in the piney woods of Texas, but clawed my way into the city as quickly as I could. I never wanted a pair of cowboy boots when I was a kid. I much preferred a pair of Airwalks or Vans I could skateboard with. But after all of the years trying to leave my country roots behind, I noticed a part of my rural upbringing that's never left me…
I’ve always loved fishing.
Whether I was at the pond down the street with a handful of worms I’d dug up under a log or hanging out with my Papaw in a little crappie shack at Lake Tawakoni, fishing was always a part of my life.
I took it for granted that I grew up in a pretty cool environment. Back when I was a kid growing up, I was a bit more of what they would call a “free range kid” today. Right out my front door I could bike to the lake, hike through the woods, fish the pond, or I could stay inside and play Nintendo. I liked them all the same.
As an adult, I kind of got away from fishing once I moved away and went to college. I was much more interested in playing guitar and hanging out with friends, but as most things seem to do, it’s come full circle in my life.
This last year, I’ve fully embraced my roots and have been spending an awful lot of time fishing (and even hunting). But this time around, I’ve traded in the spinning rod with an earthworm for a fly rod and a woolly bugger.
My wife and I spent the majority of last summer in the mountains and it flipped a switch in my brain. We started out on the East coast and traveled through Long Island, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Witnessing all of these gorgeous rivers and streams dotting the countryside made me think about how cool it would be to fish them, but I didn’t know a thing about fly fishing.
But once we crossed the country and ended up in Durango, Colorado… all bets were off.
Little did I know, but we had chosen to stay in one of the fly fishing mecas of the US. At the time, I was hiking with my dog just about every day or rock climbing at the crags any chance I got. I started to notice fly fishermen hiking high up in the mountains to (I suspect) chase brook trout. Whenever I saw this, something clicked and I knew I had to figure out how to start doing this myself.
My first step was going into the Duranglers fly shop and asking around a bit. Everyone there was super helpful and they pointed me in the right direction. They helped me figure out what I needed for the best beginner fishing fly kit and gave suggestions for what would work back in Texas.
I had a good idea of what I needed and what to think about. I just needed to find the time.
See, last summer I was much more focused on rock climbing and hiking with my dog and wanted to spend as much time doing that as possible when I wasn’t working.
So, I decided that when I got back to Austin, I’d pick up a cheap fly rod and make sure this is really something I wanted to do. Turns out, as soon as I caught my first fish, I was hooked. I’ve been fishing at least a couple of times a week since then and I’m getting ready to make the drive back up to Durango to finish the summer out in the mountains.
This time around, I’m kitted out and ready to go. I’ve started dialing in my casting, and I’ve been practicing on Guadalupe bass and rio grande cichlids in preparation for the brook trout, rainbows, and browns around Durango.
I had a taste of trout fishing on the Guadalupe early this year, but I was just a noob trying to learn my way in the world. I scared more fish than I’d like to admit and most of the stockers weren’t a fan of my presentation. This time around I’m ready to try to unlock the code and learn as much as possible about trout in the mountains.
Wish me luck.
- John Brookbow