Beyond the Law is a new Forum series spotlighting the cool things Vermont Law School students do outside the classroom.
By Andrew Ramsey, Forum Contributor
I began to fish when I was about 6 years old on the beaches of Florida when I would visit my grandparents, and for years that was the extent of my fishing experience. It was not until college that I became fully immersed in fishing, and specifically fly fishing. A fraternity brother asked me to go fishing for bass with him on one of the lakes nearby Eastern Washington University. I spent the first hour getting the hang of casting and figuring out the difference between a bite and the line bumping a log. By the end of the day, I only landed one fish and lost more hooks than I would like to admit. After we spent about 12 hours out on the boat, fishing was something that I wanted to do more of and all I could think about. You could say I was hooked.
There was something about fishing that I did not fully understand when I first started. I never understood how watching a bobber from the boat or shore could be relaxing or enjoyable. Once my bobber went down for the first time, I began to understand how the anticipation of that moment could make someone sit for hours. In some ways, I still have a hard time staring at a bobber, waiting for a fish to cruise by and eat the bait. Eventually, I began to get bored with casting out a lure and reeling it back in. I wanted more out of fishing and fly fishing gave me just that.
Fly fishing gave me an outlet from the daily stresses of life. At this point, I was working three jobs while going to school full-time. It gave me the opportunity to forget about everything else and focus on casting and making sure that I was presenting my fly in a natural manner. To be able to put my phone away and focus on the present environment. Fly fishing has taken me into some beautiful areas that I never would have experienced otherwise. Going into National Parks and into bays in the Gulf of Mexico, there are certain moments that have been burned into my memory. I vividly remember from my first fly fishing outing, seeing a tiger trout rising to my fly with such elegance, and myself ripping the fly out of the water in a panic. Encounters with bears, moose, and other wildlife turn a fly fishing trip into a real life National Geographic issue.
After that moment, I was enthralled with everything about fly fishing. Casting a fly rod was mesmerizing because of the fluid movement and skill that is required to make an effortless cast. There is always something that I can improve on or work on, whether that be casting or tying a fly that would better imitate a fish’s food. The entire fly fishing community is connected by the internet, which makes finding new techniques or tricks for casting or tying flies incredibly easy.
The next logical step in my fly fishing journey was to create my own flies, which allowed me to be more creative than fishing with a typical lure on a spinning rod. Fly tying allows me to keep fishing on my mind during the long winters until the next season opens up. Looking at a fly and knowing that this is something that I have created makes catching a fish that much more rewarding. Watching a fish rise to your fly as it naturally drifts along with the river current is addicting and brings me back over and over again.
The fly fishing world has rewarded me in more ways than I could have ever imagined. From being able to work with companies and shops to introducing new people into the sport has been an amazing experience. It is a learning experience every time I am able to get out on the water. I look forward to seeing where fly fishing will take me next. Fly fishing is what continues to motivate myself to be more environmentally conscious and to preserve our water resources.