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I have been around fishing and the outdoors for my entire life. My dad has been fly fishing for as long as I can remember. When my brother and I turned about eight, our dad started teaching us how to fly fish. We have always adhered to the Catch and Release method.  Drake, my brother, is a natural at it. I have been slowly improving my skills to feel confident at the age of 14.

I can now cast without getting stuck every other cast, which is pretty awesome.

photo courtesy of - Richey Jones
photo courtesy of - Richey Jones

Despite my casting skills, I always have the best time on our yearly vacation to Ennis, Montana. Every summer, my family flies out to Ennis to go fly fishing. It’s one of the greatest experiences of my life and I’m so grateful and lucky that I get to experience it.

As a family, we have been going to Ennis for about eight years. My dad has been going since before my brother and I were born. When we go, we go on a guided fly fishing day down the Madison River and fish in some lakes near the house that we stay at. This year, we were guided on horseback nine miles into the mountains to go fly fishing in Indian Creek. A few times, we had float tubes shipped out to Montana to use in the lakes. Float tubing is fun because you can reach places to fish that you cannot reach from the shore.

Our guide, Chris Connor of Connor Guide Service, arranged a special opportunity for my mom and me to fish with Julie Eaton. Not only was she one of the first women guides in Montana, but she is one of the few women to hold an outfitter’s license. She took my parents on their very first fly fishing trip down the Madison in 1997 when she was seven months pregnant!

photo courtesy of - Richey Jones

My mom and I were successful at catching fish this year with Julie’s excellent guidance.

Stream fishing in Indian Creek was a new experience. We rode in nine miles on horseback to reach our destination. We hiked a little ways down the creek to work our way up to where the horses were tied. It was one of the first times I had fished a stream. It took me a while to learn how to get the technique correct. Although I didn’t catch very many fish, I hooked a plethora of them! They were either small rainbow trout, cutthroat trout or a cutbow.

On July 28th, 2011, my family went fishing in a collection of lakes and ponds at the Sitz Ranch in Ennis. At the first pond that we went to, there were tons of enormous trout swimming around in the pond! Everyone was rushing to get their rods rigged, but mine was already ready. I caught the biggest trout that we could see in the pond! It was at least 10 pounds!

I was 10 at the time and my dad had to help me get it to the shore because it was so strong! It was the biggest fish I have ever caught.

photo courtesy of - Richey Jones

When I was younger, we went to Hume Lake in California a few times and went fly fishing. It is in the Sequoia National Forest and stocked once per year. Right after it was stocked, we brought our float tubes and trolled. Trolling was always very relaxing. I would kick slowly around the lake and wait for the fish to bite. I have caught some decent fish up there. The fish count varies from year to year, but it’s always beautiful and fun.

Before my brother started golfing when he turned nine, we would drive up to a couple of ponds in Three Rivers, California every weekend to go fishing. I haven’t fly fished very many times up there, but we have never been allowed to use bait. My dad always tied flies on our spinning rods instead of other lures or using bait. I have caught and released innumerable bluegill, quite a few crappie and plenty of bass using this method. I still use this method when I’m not fly fishing or bass fishing.

Fly fishing is a great hobby. It has been part of my life for as long as I can remember.

Over the years, I have honed my skills from “Dad! I’m stuck!” to “Dad! I got one!”

Our yearly vacations have been incredible experiences. I am honored to have fly fished multiple ways in beautiful places. Everyone should experience fly fishing at some point in their life. You can learn and be successful at any age. I have fished countless times and will continue to for many years to come.

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