In modern fly fishing culture, it’s easy to get caught up in the secondary components of the sport. The gear, the photos, the size of fish, etc, we all know this list. Not that these are bad aspects, but they can cloud our vision and lead us farther away from the real reasons we all started in the first place. The feeling of our first few fish on a fly rod can never be replicated. Fly fishing has changed our lives and takes us to places we would have never otherwise seen. The culture is expanding rapidly but we must steer it in the right direction. Use the power of fly fishing for the greater good. Like an army of rod wielding, torn wader wearing superheroes. Do we want to pass down Instagram followers and discount codes to the next generations of fly fishers? Or pass down the beauty of being outside and what fishing actually is about.
Fly fishing has hands down saved my life like it has many others. I feel indebted to the sport and, in particular, to Pyramid Lake. The extensive history of the lake and its fishery floats under the radar amongst the giant trout. And even farther under the radar is the most important reason the lake is what it is today, the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe. They were the first to fish and protect this beautiful resource. They have a longer history and a deeper spiritual connection to the fish and land that we as fly fishers could ever hope for. And still, to this day, despite all the hurdles Native “American” tribes go through in America, the Kooyooe Tukadu (cui-ui eaters) survived off of preserving our natural resources for the continued use of future generations. This is the message that needs to be passed down to this day. And the reason dedicated volunteers from across the country to support the first “Pyramid Lake Trout Camp.” We are honored to be able to teach an exciting twist on fishing to the amazing people who have made a culturally rich history of fishing at Pyramid Lake.
Assisted by many generous companies, we were able to put together a free 2-day beginners fly fishing course for the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe. Allowing us to share our excitement, show how incredible this sport can be, and how it has positively affected our lives. Also, to give back to the people who so generously let us fish their lake day in and day out. The first day involved classroom talks on everything from fly fishing on a budget, fisheries history, rigging a fly rod, fish handling, casting, fly tying, and everything in between. Tribal members of all ages soaked in the information like sponges. Having such a close relationship to the Lahontan Cutthroat made for a very intensive setting.
The second day was on the water. This is where the grassroots of fly fishing flourished. It wasn’t about the fish as much as it was about community. Over fifty people exchanged stories, laughs, and high amounts of positive energy. Being lucky enough to share a day on the water with the tribal members helped solidify the real vision of why fly fishing is such an incredible sport. It wasn’t about catching, it was about what really surrounds fishing. Often some of our greatest outdoor resources and experiences get overlooked. Especially when they are in our own backyard. We need to look back in time to protect the future. Historically the pioneers of caring for natural resources and preserving land were Native Americans; leaving minimal footprints, not because it is cool, but because it was a way of life.
We all love fly fishing and it has given us more than we often think. Sometimes we need to step back and look at the “how” we are internally wired to the environment and the sport. Open your eyes, because the most beautiful places and most amazing people often are overlooked.