Fly Fishing Trip with No Fish

fly fishing winter

The Journey Continues

Lessons from on the water and in the office


I hope you are doing well and, if not fishing, dreaming of your next time on the water.

For those of you that have been following along on this journey of mine I first want to say thank you for the encouragement and advice you have so freely given. It means a lot.

Yesterday I got out for a few hours on the only water that wasn’t (a) blown out and (b) freezing for some frigid fly fishing (F3!). The air temperature fluctuated between 34-30 degrees and when you add in the wind it was bracing. I wasn’t expecting to have much luck and I am pleased to report I was right (ha). No fish to the net and no bites and it was freaking wonderful!!!!

Yes, no fish and tons of fun.

Why? I have been reflecting a ton on a number of different things and have also been experiencing a renaissance of sorts in my business life. Long story short: I took an opportunity to build two new businesses that are very similar to something I was world class in and loved before the extremely premature birth of my son, multiple severe and ongoing disabilities and my subsequent spiral in to depression.

From the outside many in my life would compliment me for not quitting (I will take that) and for being able to create a pretty lucrative part time business. The problem was this: I was desperately missing the stimulation that I get from building a business. Making money isn’t a driver for me…it’s more about measuring the progresss.

Anyways, for the past two years I have been fly fishing a ton, coming back to the pursuit of my heart out on the water and in the mountains and it has been amazing (I am not stopping btw). In some ways, the past two years I was using fly fishing to try and find that source of stimulation that I was missing and it delivered.

What I realized over the holiday break was that the time on the water (250 days in the past two years) had done something amazing. It had healed me enough to be ready to push again and build new businesses. For the past month I have been joyfully building, thinking and creating and it has been incredible.

I have been fly fishing in that time, but not as much and it is good.

So, here is my point (sort of). I had an opportunity to reframe what fly fishing is for me now that it has helped me heal to the point that I now have that healthy stimulation from my business building. What does it mean/represent in my life.

Here are my current thoughts in no particular order:

  1. I have invested enough time, effort and practice to be confident that I am competent across a number of disciplines in fly fishing. I am not a master by any stretch. I know how to tight line nymph with the Mono Rig, I know how to fish with standard fly line throwing bass bugs and streamers, I can dry fly fish with some degree of skill and I am pretty darn good at Tenkara as well.
  2. Fly fishing for me isn’t ONLY about catching fish. In fact, what it represents for me right now is peace, beauty and joy.
  3. I, for the first time since I have come back to fly fishing, feel a tremendous sense of freedom for the future. For much of the past two years I have been obsessed and manic in my pursuit of learning and acquiring gear to make sure I could wrest every single drop of fishing from my time on the water. Going forward, I am fishing for the experience in my soul.

What does that mean? I can’t say for certain, but I know it represents how I feel right now. The cool thing is that I now have a happier frame of reference for my fly fishing and life. I am not anxious and instead am happy and eager for another experience.

Yesterday was great. I fished really, really hard (meaning I was immersed in the experience and kept adjusting my tactics to see what would work) and I loved it just as hard.

What are your thoughts? Why do you fish the way that you do?

Tight lines and all the best,


About Ken McBroom 307 Articles
Ken McBroom is an accomplished outdoor writer and photographer. Growing up in Lynchburg Tennessee allowed him many opportunities afield as a boy and young man. Later in life, after Desert Storm, Ken’s wanderlust took him to Alaska to live and work and experience the last frontier. Married now with two beautiful children, Ken now calls Kentucky home where he continues to communicate our American outdoor traditions and the lifestyle it offers.

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