Reminders about giving thanks for fly-fishing

On my way home from a lengthy road trip after a week of pheasant hunting, I was trying to come up with an idea for this month’s column. As I was exhausted from the hunt and travel, I wasn’t having much luck.

Because it’s November, I was trying to think of a new Thanksgiving or political idea. And because pork and politics didn’t sound inviting, I decided to write about giving thanks.

But giving thanks for fly rods, single-malt scotch and good cigars seemed sort of shallow. So when I got home, I read parts of my fly-fishing journal and was reminded of many ways that fly-fishing allows me to give thanks.

For starters, I give thanks for medical science. I know, you’re thinking, “What does medical science have to do with fly-fishing?” Actually a lot.

I am privileged to be associated with a group of fly-fishing guides who spend a fair amount of time volunteering their time and talents (T&T) working with folks with serious illnesses or special needs. Those include breast cancer survivors; veterans without limbs or who need someone just to stand quietly beside them and let them know they’re doing a great job of casting; an avid fly-fisherman dealing with the effects of a stroke; or someone with a major disability just wanting to hold the fly rod after a guide has caught a fish for him.

Without the benefits of medical science, there would be far fewer people for those guides to work with. Also, some of those guides wouldn’t be able to wade in a river or cast a fly rod without the new shoulders, hips and knees they now have.

I give thanks that many of those same guides volunteer their T&T helping nonprofits raise money. The T&T can come in the form of donating trips to be auctioned with all the money going to the nonprofit. Or sometimes it is done by greatly reducing their guide fees while guiding participants engaged in multiday tournaments raising funds for nonprofits.

The best I saw was when a guide I know came up with an idea to teach youngsters how to fly-fish. These special youngsters need a caring adult in their life. The caring adults for this day were the guides. (Seems like a stretch to call a fly-fishing guide an adult.) The payoff came when one of the new fly-fishermen told me that this had been one of the “funnest” days he could remember. Man, do I ever give thanks for the above-mentioned group of guides.

I give thanks for being able to fly-fish in new locations and make new friends. I give even more thanks for being able to fly-fish in old locations and maintain old friendships. And I want you to know, some of us are getting really old.

I give thanks that election season is almost over, and I won’t be fielding phone calls to vote for some pork-getter. However, I also give thanks that our political system allows me to vote and speak freely without fear for my life. Remember the 14-year-old girl from Pakistan in a London hospital?

Wow, reading parts of my fly-fishing journal brought some reality back to me. It’s now obvious to me there really are great reasons to give thanks for fly-fishing.

Have a great month giving thanks.

Reach Don Oliver at

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