Wallflowers should not build recognizable internet personalities. Blending in to the streambed and hiding in the current is not just for trout–I have always been exceptionally good at the art of invisibility, particularly at conferences. I reckon I could still stealthily work a meeting of attorneys or scientists, getting just enough eye contact to get credit for showing up while staying well within my comfort bubble. Fishing is different. I find it fascinating that a sport that largely involves meditative solitude has given me voice and audacity to don a Fedora and boldly enter a room of a few hundred other fish-troverts.
The 2017 Tenkara Summit in Estes Park last Saturday was a fabulous experience for this chick and her number one fishing buddy (incidentally celebrating twenty-two years of wedded bliss and adventure-seeking that day). This was our second summit and we were immediately blown away by how much larger and devoted the clan of tenkara had become since 2015. As the room filled we took mental notes—more women in the audience, more couples, and more kids. The word is clearly getting out there that fly fishing can be stripped down to basics and built into a passion for anyone. Seeing partners snuggled up in the audience listening and exchanging glances of “hey make sure I remember to practice that,” or perhaps “shoot you were right about that grip of mine,” was a wonderful thing. At the end of the afternoon we went to our campsite in Moraine Park and had a long chat of what we needed to take to the stream on Sunday. Tenkara has added a new line tying us together. I think more couples are finding the same to be true.
I cannot lie–having Yvon Chouinard wander into the rows and rows of available seats and ask to sit next to us was a sublime moment, a little anniversary gift from the universe for us. The man is a legend in the tale of our life, both climbing and fishing. His whispered comments to Stephen during presentations still make me giggle. His passionate presentation makes me want to add a cape to my fedora-clad persona and go fight for rivers and wild fish. I will always be grateful to have had a chance to stare into the twinkling eyes of that rock climber, fisher, earth warrior and hear a few quips just to us.
It was gratifying to hear “is that you Tenkara Chick?” and exchange smiles, stories, and laughs rather than just likes and follow-up comments. I enjoyed each chance to put a face and story with an Instagram handle. Next summit I think we need that info on our name badges. Stripped of my ability to be a wallflower, I was forced deeper into the group and I must say, it is a fascinating and welcoming bunch. Fish-troverts are my people.
Great summit! Great to meet everyone!