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Giving thanks

Kirk Webb
Taylor Creek Fly Shop

Fly-fishers are a unique breed. They seem to always live life on the fringe; seeking solitude on the river during times often reserved for family, food, drinks and celebration. Thanksgiving Day is no exception. While most people are busy watching football games and sipping libations after stuffing their faces full of turkey and pumpkin pie, I and a few select others instead opt to head out on the river in the promise of feeding fish and empty rivers.

To put things in perspective a little bit, it would be like having an epic powder day on an empty mountain. My friends, and others like we are, cringe at the thought of being cooped up indoors on a holiday knowing that the rivers are full of unpressured, happily feeding fish. Over the years, I’ve occasionally bumped into other housebroken fishing bums on the stream with the same intentions that I had; it’s a holiday, I bet the river is empty, I should go fishing.

Though we’re all here for the same reason — fishing and solitude — it never ceases to amaze me that fly-fishers are a warm, heartfelt group of outsiders who when confronted on the river during a holiday (or blizzard, rainstorm, etc.) are always full of exuberance and life. There’s just something special about knowing that while everybody else is indoors, we’re outdoors. This shared bond is more powerful than you might think, often turning strangers into instant friends.

After the usual in-stream meet-and-greet, we exchange quick holiday cheer with one another ask one another how the fishing is, and eventually, as the day plays out, a sort of loose camaraderie often develops. If fishing close to one another, we might rejoice in one another’s successes when a big or hard-earned fish is caught. Then again, on the opposite side of the equation, we might give sympathy to one another when a large fish is lost.

Words should always be kept to a minimum on the stream, but by the end of the day, we might share a nip or two to shake off the cold and congratulate one another on escaping the rat race of the holidays to enjoy the unplanned company of one another.

All of us have a lot to be thankful for, no matter how you choose to spend your Thanksgiving. A little bit of company (and booze) is always welcomed to rejoice in yet another year of fishing looming on the horizon.


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