My introduction to fly fishing came too late in life and purely by happenstance. It just means I have a lot of catching up to do and lots of future trips to help make up for my late start. About 20 years ago, through a fellow board member in a business in which I invested, I was introduced to Skip Brittenham. It was at breakfast in NYC that Skip and I met. We talked about all sorts of things, and towards the second hour he said, “So what do you do for fun?”
I was retiring from Goldman Sachs at the time and never had enough time to do lots of fun things, so I said “Not much. I’ve had a day job and no time for myself.” He said, “So, have you ever fished?” I thought for a moment and said, “Well, when I was growing up, our family would go to some place with a pond. My dad got a long branch, put a piece of string on the end, found a hook, and put a piece of salami on the hook.” Skip said, “That’s not fishing. Come with me to Jackson, and I’ll teach you to fish.”
We bought boots, waders, a rod and reel, all the extras, and I flew out. We had the most extraordinary time, and I was smitten. Skip, whom some you may know, is a fishing icon. He won the One Fly one year, and then, with the winning team, went to New Zealand for the world tournament.
We became the closest of friends and travelled the world from Argentina to Mongolia and many places in between. I tell people…not only has fly fishing changed my life, but I feel like I singlehandedly support more than a few fly shops. It is all about the stuff!!! Like most folks that fish, I tend to gravitate to the same spots again and again. For me it’s Patagonia River Guides in Argentina and the One Fly. I think I have gone to them 11 or 12 years each. Rance and Travis, who have both won the One Fly and are well-known to many of you, have the most extraordinary set up. Fishing lodges typically have either great fisheries OR great ambiance. At PRG you get both, and catching several 15 plus pound trout on a trip is magic.
The One Fly is epic for me. It’s not just a great celebration that allows us to see kindred spirits every year, but it’s also an opportunity to contribute to the great philanthropic efforts the One Fly supports. Doing well (and having fun) by doing good is a mantra I think about often. I am part of the American Rivers team and, in the same way, contribute to their good work. The desire to support the fishing ecosystem is part of our DNA, and our ability to preserve the opportunity for our children and share our joy of fishing with good friends is a gift.
Well, I have a new first digit in my age this year. Each decade for me has been more exciting than the last, and I still have places to go, casts to learn, mends to improve, flies to retrieve from bushes, and fishing friends and guides to schmooze with during glorious times like the One Fly. So, to all of you who read this, just know how honored I am to be a part of this annual get together. I may own way too much schwag with the One Fly logo, but I can’t help myself. The 363 days a year we aren’t together may seem long, but the memories allow the anticipation for next September.