Published Jul 11. 2012 - 10 years ago
Updated or edited Oct 28. 2021

Fishing with friends

Travis Swartz spends a lot of time on the water alone, but this past weekend he spent a couple days on the Big Wood River in Ketchum, Idaho fishing with his friends Reese, John and Zach.

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I spend a lot of time on the water alone. I get up early, throw my gear in the car, turn up the music, sing along completely out of tune, watch the sunrise, chug my coffee and head for the water. Alone means I do whatever I want. I fish where I want for as long as I want without concern for anyone. I fish the best holes, the best riffles, the best currents, the best whatever the river or stream has to offer. I do not have to share. I'm the youngest of three children in my family and have never been very good at sharing. Fishing alone offers a freedom that I enjoy very much. Fishing alone is also "fishing alone" and that can get… well… lonely.

Fishing with friends - John and Reese
Travis Swartz

This past weekend I spent a couple days on the Big Wood River in Ketchum, Idaho fishing with friends Reese, John and Zach. It reminded me that sharing the fishing experience with friends is usually preferable to fishing alone. Fishing with friends gives me the opportunity to talk to others as opposed to talking to myself like some sort of maniac. Fishing with friends gives me somebody to yell "Fish On!" to when I hook into a trout. I can't tell you how many times I've had to yell that at complete strangers who look back at me as though I've lost my mind. Fishing with friends gives me a chance to connect with folks who share my love for rivers, the outdoors and fly fishing.

Fishing with friends also, unless your friends are terrible fly fishermen, gives you a better chance at catching fish. It's good to have more than your own limited perspective on how to fish a certain stretch of water, what flies to use or whether to sink a nymph or float a dry fly. The thrill of the catch is also no longer limited to just your line. "Yes", we all want to out fish those we're with and "yes" we all want to brag about being a better fisherman BUT we also take great pleasure in celebrating a catch made on someone else's line. When fishing with friends, we are all connected and share in the thrill of every fish caught. Fishing with friends is a damn fun thing to do.

This weekend also reminded me of the bonds and companionship that we aim to capture in our documentary Fish On - A Reel Retreat. Reel Recovery Retreats offer participants phenomenal fishing accompanied by the lasting bond of friendship. When talking with folks who have been to a retreat, they always mention two things: "Fishing" and "Friendship". The experiences that life throws at us whether good or bad are always made better when we share them with others. Companionship reminds us that we are not alone. Many people have experienced and understand our hardships no matter what they are. Many people share the same passion for whatever we are passionate about. Many people have experienced the same laughter, joy and happiness that we have had in our own lives. The men I will be with in September will not only share in the beauty, fun and thrill of fly fishing they will have the opportunity to surround themselves with others who can truly identify with the difficult times they are currently facing.

I caught a few nice fish on the river this weekend. The Green Drakes were on in the heat of the afternoon and heads were up. The hamburgers at Grumpy's in Ketchum were the perfect filler for a very empty belly. It was definitely my favorite fishing trip of the year made possible by good friends. I'm looking more and more forward to September when I get the opportunity to document a group of men sharing some good times on the water amongst new friends.



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