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Why We Fish: Who We Fish With

Why We Fish: Who We Fish With

Family Time

I first learned to fish because my dad loved fishing. It meant time alone with him, away from the world and all its distractions. Now, my sons want to fish with me for the same reasons. Along the river and in the mountains, they have all of me. And I have all of them. There are no devices or disruptions, only the collective hope for trout. This didn’t just happen. It took significant investments of time and patience. Still, teaching my sons to fish came naturally. Teaching my wife to fish, not so much.

Sharing Your Hobbies

My wife first asked me to teach her to fly fish along Rock Creek in southwestern Montana. Until this moment, hobbies developed clearly defined as his or hers, and with what I believed, an unspoken understanding that fly fishing was mine. All mine. In marriage, as it turns out, there is only understanding of something if it is spoken. Then spoke again. And again and again.

We started with the basics, practicing on the lawn of our rental cabin along the creek. How to cast. How to set. How not to hook your husband. We moved to the water. Dozens of trout actively fed on the water’s surface, slurping any small fly drifting near their feeding lanes. My initial instinct was to suggest that my wife find a different hobby. Our wedding vows came to mind. Though a case could be made that fly fishing lies outside the boundaries of sickness and health, I concluded that “until death do us part” may come quicker if I suggested this. 

If You Fish, Fish with Others

I spent most of the day untangling lines and retrieving flies from bushes. Eventually, my wife landed a Royal Wulff in a soft current, and a ten-inch cutthroat struck the fly aggressively. She screamed and recoiled, thus hooking the fish, much to the surprise of both her and the trout. This began a new season of fishing together, and the investment of time to teach her to fish, as I did my sons, has paid off. We now fish together as a family, our lives and love strengthened by our time along the water.

Relationships define who we are. The quality of those relationships is inextricably linked to the quantity of time we invest into them. So, if you fish, fish with others. Untangle their lines. Help them find their way through the currents. In time, you’ll find that helping others catch a trout is the second-best feeling of fly fishing. The first is catching a larger one in front of them.   

Roger W. Thompson is the nationally acclaimed author of We Stood Upon Stars and My Best Friend’s Funeral, as well as an avid fly-fisherman. His ability to write about fishing and adventure while connecting to the deepest meanings of the human experience has earned him the nickname “The River Bishop.” Roger lives with his wife and two teenage sons in his coastal hometown of Ventura, California, where they surf, skate, snowboard, and build furniture together. Roger will be writing an exclusive series of essays for over the coming weeks and months. We hope they inspire and encourage you.

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Comments (4)

  • Bernard Hockenberry
    January 7, 2023 at 10:29 am Reply

    Does Rarewaters provide fly fishing instruction? I have classroom instruction however, never on the water. Also would like to see the opertunities that Rarewaters provide.

    • RareWaters Staff
      January 9, 2023 at 10:31 am Reply

      Hi Bernard – we don’t provide instruction, but we support many organizations, like Trout Unlimited, that coordinate on-the-water mentorship and learning opportunities. Feel free to shoot us an email at and we can get you connected!

  • Jerome Wilks
    January 18, 2023 at 7:44 pm Reply

    Roger’s writing about fishing with his dad hit home with me. I grew up in Michigan and began trout fishing with my dad when I was 8 years old. We fished the Pere Marquette River on many Saturdays in the spring and summer. He worked in an automotive factory five hard days a week but still had time to get up on Saturday at 2:30 am drive 60 miles to fish with me.
    The limit was 10 trout each and on most Saturdays we brought home 20 rainbow and brown trout(and a Brookie on occasion )for dinner. I went to College in Nebraska and now I’m retired in Oregon where I fish the Des chutes River for Red Sides. The Michigan river keeps calling me home as I still can hear the music the river makes early in the morning or at dusk. The peace and quiet of the Manistee National Forest along with the sounds of the wildlife will always be ingrained in my soul. As I approach my 78th year on this earth, the Pere Marquette River in Baldwin, Michigan will forever be my special place on this planet.

    • Admin
      January 18, 2023 at 8:57 pm Reply

      Thanks for your comments, Jerome. I, Adrienne (from MI also) can personally attest to the peace and quiet of the Manistee National Forest. Love hearing the story about you and your dad. Michigan is a great spot to fish and spend time outdoors. Thanks for sharing.

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