It’s the place that I look forward to fishing the absolute most. When I’m stuck inside in the dreary blur that is winter, hiding from feet of snow, there’s a mental countdown I have; hashing out the days until the high country will once again be accessible, thawed, and ready to fish.
I struggle to share my passion of fly-fishing in the backcountry with social media. It’s this back and forth mental argument I have with myself. Are these places that are so sacred to me and my family deserving of what could be unworthy eyes? Are they worth sharing photos of? But I’ve convinced myself that in the hearts of the public are where these places belong. By shedding light on their untouched beauty or by drawing more people out in search of them, these places stand to be protected. Now more than ever, our public lands deserve the limelight to shine bright on how truly special and completely irreplaceable they are.
My husband caught his first fish on the fly, a native Colorado River Cutthroat, when he was four years old. He did this in a place that so few people in the entire world know of, you could probably count them all on one hand. Years later, he would choose to be baptized in the same high mountain stream. I find my heaven on Earth way up in the mountains of Colorado, where Cutthroat swim in the same stream they have for likely all of their existence. It’s a place that fills my heart with such warmth that can only be replicated by the taste of the sun ripened wild raspberries that grow alongside its bank. Its frigid, snow melt water quite literally takes my breath away as I wet wade up its winding course. I could forever be happy catching fingerling fish the colors of the setting sun, never tiring of their delicate wonder. Miles in with sore feet and heavy shoulders, I feel most alive. I feel cleansed of city living. I feel closer to the Earth. This is the place that my husband first took me to learn to fly fish, and it’s where we’ll take our son when he too is ready. My first fish was a native Colorado River Cutthroat, my son’s will be too. And one day I hope my ashes will be spread here to become a part of this remarkable landscape, for I will be home.
My love for and my attachment to a place like this comes from something deep rooted and I believe, ancestral. The places we fish and the places we hunt are meant to hold such weight on our souls. They’re meant to be kept sacred for a reason. Back when my ancestors roamed the Northern Plains, their hunting grounds were their livelihood. For me, my fishing grounds are where I find solace. They’re where I go to rid my eyes of all the atrocities mankind is capable of making of his surroundings. Nature always seems to do right by the Earth, but such is not always the case for human nature. As sportsmen and women it is our responsibility to leave places like the high country better off than how we find it, so that future generations can bask in all its glory as we have been able to. Taking up a hobby like fly fishing and enjoying it to its full potential comes with the responsibilities of being a steward for the environment.
“If all the beasts were gone, men would die from great loneliness of spirit, since whatever happens to the beasts also happens to man. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons of the Earth.” -Chief Seattle, 1835
Gabi Suggs is a public land advocate, fly fishing fanatic, wild game cooking enthusiast, and all around outdoors addict. She splits her time between her native New Mexico and Colorado where her husband plays soccer professionally. For more of her incredible adventures and words of wisdom, check out her Instagram!