Written By: Pete Van Hattum
When I started fly fishing almost a year ago I never knew the journey it would take me on and the people it would connect me to. Many of those people are new friends which is to be expected because any time you have a new hobby you meet new people who have like interests. The thing that surprised me the most is how it has helped me reconnect with people from many years ago and the journeys we have had since.
To start the reason any of you are reading this article today is because Jamie of Winged Reel and I go way back to our teenage years and spent many good times together doing what teenagers do and a little bit of fishing. Back then Jamie was an avid fly fisherman and while I was interested in learning more I never took the time to try it. I was too busy playing sports, chasing girls, and everything else that you can imagine. When I went away to college and spent the next 8 years of my life in South Carolina we lost touch. In fact when I moved back to Georgia we continued to remain out of touch as we lived on opposite sides of town and were in different places in our lives with relationships and hobbies. It wasn’t until I purchased my first home with my wife that the one thing that has reconnected me to more friends than anything else came into my possession, an Orvis fly rod the previous owner had left in the closet.
Now I have fished all my life and the reason we bought the house we did (don’t tell my wife) was because it had a pond on it. I had visions of hanging out on the dock after work and catching small bluegill and bass and that type of relaxation is hard to find in the Atlanta area. I had a new spinning rod and hadn’t ever really thought about fly fishing. When we started to renovate our master bedroom I found the old Orvis rod and thought I always was intrigued by fly fishing and this would be a great way to get started. I knew that if I was going to learn I was going to need help.
My first call was to Jamie and even though we hadn’t connected in years he was more than willing to let me tag along with my new toy and all of the tangles, closed loops, and flies in trees that I came with. He and Justin taught me almost everything I know about fly fishing and I can’t imagine I’d be here today without them.
Fast forward 6 months later and after seeing posts of fish on my personal social media site I hear from some old neighborhood and high school friends of mine who moved to Montana that they had given up the rock climbing and mountain bikes for fly rods and drift boats and the next chapter of reconnecting begins. I thought it was a nice dream but less than 4 months after that conversation I was on a plane to Montana and headed for the promise land of trout and stream side scenery that is hard to believe resides in our great country.
Some could say the trip was all about fishing but for me it was so much more than that. To be in a place of that beauty and with that kind of reputation was an amazing experience. To share it with friends who you have not spent significant time with over the past 10 years but feel like you saw yesterday was something I will never forget. The opportunity to spend time together doing something that none of us did 10 years ago and now all of us share was something you could never imagine but in reality it all makes sense.
I am very thankful I found that fly rod and can’t believe how far it has taken me. It has allowed me to become a better person and spend time with old friends and new ones. I only hope that my journey is one that many others have experienced as well. While I will always love fishing and always have in one way of another I thank it most for the people and experiences it has brought into my life.