Adventures at AvidMax: Learning to Fish Without Snoopy, Part 1

Entry the Second
(and far overdue)

Let me begin this post with an apology: I promised our readership regular content in my first blog post, and have certainly not delivered! I may have an adventurous spirit, but I act hesitantly and constantly find excuses for myself that hold me back more often than not.

I should also add, here at the beginning, that this story spans over July-October, and thus, takes longer to tell than should or would have. Such is the consequence of my inaction!

I hope you enjoy my (mis)adventures!

Part 1: Baby Steps

The beginning of my summer was filled with crazy plans and fundraising events and a wedding (NOT MINE) and moving and before I knew it, I found myself staring into the first days of Autumn with an overwhelming sense of oh-my-fish-where-did-the-summer-go?!

As a beginner fisher (can we really count the days of my youth?), I have been extremely wary and nervous about starting my fishing adventures solo. Where do I go? What should I bring? What do I wear? Where do I cast? And most concerning, what do I do if I actually catch a fish?! I had NO CLUE how to unhook a fish! The prospect honestly had me dizzy. I was sure I’d kill or injure one if I managed to hook it.

Excuse #1. I seriously needed my hand held.

Luckily for me, I work here at AvidMax. So gear and basics aren’t completely out of my reach. Thus, I began my (very. slow. paced.) journey.


The Early Beginning

Earlier this year, I asked around the office, did some research, shifted through our product, and came to the conclusion that fly fishing can be an expensive and convoluted sport; which of course I already knew, but trying to decide what gear to buy made my head spin. I couldn’t figure out why I would possibly need a vest AND sling AND waist pack AND 4 fly boxes AND 3 spools AND 6 tippets AND every tool AND a line for everything AND AND AND. Fly fishing is not for the faint of heart! Or simple-minded! I kept thinking.

This was when tenkara officially caught my eye. Tenkara is a simple form of fly fishing, originating in Japan, similar to cane pole fishing in simplicity, but that’s about where the similarities end. A rod, a line, a fly–that’s all I needed! I sighed with relief as I began to finally take the steps forward in my fly fishing adventure.

Step 1: Buy a Rod Kit

I sat on this purchase a bit. I wanted to make sure I really got the best rod for me. And by the best, I really meant the one I could actually afford that wouldn’t fall apart at the first real struggle. (After all, Snoopy, while super cool and totally treasured, wasn’t exactly the highest quality rod–my cousins and I each went through our fair share of many a Snoopy rod, each.)

I had decided on buying a kit as we have a variety available and, having no gear whatsoever, I figured it would be a great way to get my foot in the door of the tenkara world. I started to talk styles and techniques and locations with some coworkers, preparing myself for my first day of fishing after-purchase.

The day came, and with paycheck in hand, and with the help some good ole research, I found the perfect rod kit. The Tenkara Rod Co. Sawtooth Package. At 12 ft, this rod had a nice long reach to make up for the lack of spooled line, and satisfied both my need for affordability and my desire for something spiffy (I am nothing if not a perfect poser). I added a Tenkara USA Kit to complete my beginner collection, and eagerly planned to go fishing the next day.

My fancy-schmancy new Sawtooth rod with all the extra goodies – and my AvidMax retractor and fly box!

Step 2: Get Out and Fish!

My family was in town that week, and I had every intention of coercing my cousin, let’s call him Fishman Skip, into taking me fishing while he was here. Fishman is an incredibly talented fisherman. To hear my uncle speak of his son’s fishing endeavors would make even the most experienced angler a little envious.

So naturally, I brought my brand spanking new tenkara rod and accessories along on our family picnic to Flying J Ranch Park in Evergreen, Co, certain that there would be a stream or pond I could wet my line in. I quickly learned Fishman Skip wouldn’t be present, but I figured I could get some practice in before we went fishing that weekend.

As I pulled out my rod, the sun glistened off of the finish and my family oohed and ahhed over the shiny brown telescoping sections and hmmed at my explanation of this “simple fishing.” I, the student, had already become the teacher.

“What kinda fly rod is THAT?!” was the confused exclamation made by Grandpa, a proud fly fisherman. I, myself, was puffed up a little that my family was so intrigued and impressed with my newfound “hobby.”

My ego was further stroked as my younger, but very cool, 21-year-old brother said to my father, “Dude, how hardcore would it be if Liesl becomes a fly fisherman?!”

I was so cool and on top of the world and practically already a pro as my uncle turned to me and said, “Is your fishing license up to date?”

“My what?” I replied.

Step 2: Get Out and Fish!
Step 2: Purchase a Fishing License!!

A license to fish? Who knew! (Not me.) Unfortunately, without a license, there was no fishing for me that day, and Fishman Skip was unable to find time amongst family time to take me fishing that weekend. He left with the promise of next-time.

Excuse #2. No cousin.
Excuse #3. No license.

Back to square one, I eventually made my way to the closest Fishing License sales location — my local Walmart.

I stood around for a bit, staring at fishing rods and bait and feeling far more excited to buy my very own first ever fishing license than most people would be, and looking, I’m sure, a bit like a lost puppy.
Liesl's new fishing licenseA super sweet young woman in a blue vest eventually found me and, while laughing at my enthusiasm, ran my ID, jotted down my info, informed me of the important and awesome features and fees of a Colorado fishing license, ran my card, and handed me a fresh-off-the-printer-under-the-counter license. I gleefully ran out the door and immediately began to show off my new license to all willing friends and family like a proud grandpa shows off photos of his grandkids. I felt so legit.

Step 3: NOW Get Out and Fish!

You may now guess what happened next. The weeks turned into months, the days grew shorter and colder…wait, this is Colorado. The days only just started getting cold this year (As I write this, It’s December 1st, and we are having only our third day of snow since October.) and folks fish well into October. But I digress.

I constantly carried my gear around with me, promising that I’d jump at any chance to fish. But always it sat in my car. Sad, neglected, unused.

My buddy, I call him Gavgav, invited me to go fishing upon discovering my desire to immerse myself in the outdoor world, and continued to do so regularly since the spring, somehow always when I had other plans or when I was sick. Our timing is impeccable. Should I have gone fishing anyway, since I felt I needed to be coddled? Yes, but did I? No. I kept whining that I didn’t really know how to fish or have the time.

Excuse #4. I definitely wasn’t taking my personal challenge seriously.

I arrived in October with a sense of… well… unaccomplishment. A fancy new rod, an official fishing license, and every promise to fish followed by every excuse in the book as to why I couldn’t. I had even started this very post, “The beginning of my summer…,” as a way to get myself focused and to at least write about getting my license. You can see how that went.

That first week, I spent some time with my family, and my mother informed me that they would be going to visit my cousins in Albuquerque, NM, that following weekend to see the Balloon Fiesta. Fishman Skip’s stomping ground. I emailed the boss, packed my bags, and invited myself along, all the while informing Fishman via text that we would be going fishing. I couldn’t put it off any longer, and I had to have a guide session with the greatest amateur fisherman on the Pecos (I’m biased).

Step 3.5: Get a Guide

Processed with MOLDIV
Fishman Skip. Age 22. The Man. The Myth. The Legend.

Fishman Skip has the mind of a Chess Champion. He calculates, he plans, and he waits. As soon as I arrived at their home in Cedar Crest, NM, he began to ask what MY plan was. “Where do you wanna go? What do you wanna do? Do you wanna fly fish or spin fish? How long to you wanna fish?” Look, Skippy, I have no idea what I’m doing, that’s why YOU’RE the guide!

Of course, I was very confident in my actual answer, “I dunno, I just wanna use my tenkara rod.”

to be continued in part 2…
(I told you I was reaping the consequence of neglecting to post regularly!)

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