The provenance of this fishing obsession of ours has roots in Oklahoma, unlike us. It starts in 2012. There is Yvon Chouinard and the Mountain Fork River, from there it grows like laboratory bacteria on a perfectly poured petri dish of agar—something I used to do more of before I found fishing.
We had a good red dirt life. We had solid career tracks in biotech and judicial decision-making. We were rock climbers and enjoyed time on the local granite and destination cliffs of Yosemite and the Tetons. A name like Chouinard meant something to us. Stephen was drawn to fly fishing but the gibberish of bugs, lines, reels, and the rest left his head spinning. We stood by trails in New Mexico watching people fly fish the Pecos, and thought it looked far too cumbersome, yet mesmerizing. Then a passing comment in a Jack Turner book about Yvon Chouinard fishing in Yellowstone sparked a pursuit. Stephen needed to know. What did Yvon fish? And how?
Now everyone knows that the founder of Patagonia is a tenkara fishing enthusiast but back then it was an emerging trend to cast off the mechanical gear and stick with line and rod. Mr. Chouinard waxed poetic about the simplicity and portability of the method. That appealed to both of us. We wanted to be that couple at the alpine lake casting gleefully at trout. Our first tenkara rod came via Rigs Fly Shop in Ridgway, Colorado to Oklahoma. The first casts were below Re-Regulation Dam on the Mountain Fork River, allegedly Oklahoma’s “best trout fishing,” which may be true but is not saying a lot. It was only a few months later that Stephen was moving to the Uncompahgre Valley and buying a rod for me at Rigs as my “welcome to Colorado life” gift.
We most often tell people we moved to Colorado for the skiing, the ice climbing, and the endless backpacking terrain. Fishing was down the list, new to our repertoire of activities, but it was part of the total package that drew us. A few years later, our fishing days are tallied next to climbing days, kayak days, and ski days, i.e. the days we are living well. And I am totally willing to lay blame for that positive outcome at the feet of Yvon and his proselytizing.
Thanks Yvon, from a couple of climbers turned trout fishers that like to keep it simple and play hard.