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Fishing at Redwood: What reels people in?

“I constantly think that I’m going to catch a fish. I feel like I have to take one more cast. I feel like I have to sit out there just a little bit longer to try and catch a fish, even if I’m not catching anything,” senior Robert Buchanan said.

Marin’s abundance of creeks, marshes and bays makes it the ideal place for fishing. At Redwood, students have taken advantage of this. For seniors Buchanan, Miles Dean and Owen Henderson, fishing has been a constant fixture in their lives for many years.

Displaying his catch of the day, Owen Henderson shares many of his fishing experiences on his YouTube account.
Displaying his catch of the day, Owen Henderson shares many of his fishing experiences on his YouTube account.

Fishing has long been a part of Henderson’s family history. His father practically raised him with a fishing rod in hand.

“Ever since I was a few months old, I was always on my dad’s back on the river while he was fishing, so it’s kind of in my blood,” Henderson said. “I’ve been doing it for all of my life.”

His family has their own fly fishing business, Henderson Fly Fishing, which Henderson has become very involved with. In addition to this, Henderson’s uncle is a fishing guide. In the past two years, fishing has become Henderson’s form of work, which he hopes to continue with for the rest of his life.

“It’s just a real connection to nature, especially being really connected with how everything fits together. Some people say it’s boring, and you have to have patience, but it’s kind of a hunt in and of itself,” Henderson said.

Similarly, Buchanan was introduced to the sport of fishing at the age of four while on a trip to Florida with his mom. Using a small beginner’s rod, Buchanan was unsuccessful in catching fish, so a more experienced fisherman put a fish on his line and told Buchanan to reel it in. This is when his interest in fishing truly sparked.

Holding a fresh catch, Miles Dean first began fishing in upstate New York, but now fishes whenever and wherever he can.
Holding a fresh catch, Miles Dean first began fishing in upstate New York, but now fishes whenever and wherever he can.

“For me, it’s part of the aspect of not really knowing what you’re going to catch. You can target certain species, but for bay fishing, you’re casting it out there and you just wait. When you catch something, you don’t know what it is, and it’s kind of cool to see what fish you caught,” Buchanan said.

Through fishing, Buchanan has also become exposed to new opportunities while traveling around the states and globally. Buchanan explained how he has been able to travel to places such as Oregon, Hawaii and New Zealand, a world renowned fishing destination. He has brought his fly rod to these places, allowing him to experience fishing in other locations besides Marin.

Dean started fishing when he was five, during his vacations to his grandparents’ house in the Adirondack Mountains in New York. He has been fishing seriously since then, and has even learned to tie his own flies, which are used as bait when fly fishing. Last year, he also started the fishing club at Redwood and is looking to continue growing it this year.

Dean describes how fishing serves as a meditative practice, something that has been especially helpful to cope with the stressful high school environment.

According to the Harvard Medical School Department of Neurobiology, the Recreational Boating and Fishing foundation along with the Outdoor Foundation claim that 38 percent of Americans who look to get involved with fly fishing see it as a relaxing activity.

“Some people go fishing for the comradery of going with other people, but that’s honestly not me at all. I go just to completely immerse myself in the ecosystem. It’s a mindful practice; when I’m fly fishing and I’m standing in the middle of a river, the only thing on my mind is fishing and the fish,” Dean said.  

This calmness isn’t something that usually comes with  fishing, especially when starting at a young age. The wait in between casting and reeling in the fish can last hours or days on end, which makes it more difficult to appreciate the sport itself.

Casting out a line, Owen Henderson loves to bring his family boat into the bay and fish with his friends.
Casting out a line, Owen Henderson loves to bring his family boat into the bay and fish with his friends.

“I [used to think] that if I’m not catching fish then I’m not having fun, but as you grow older you just grow to appreciate more of the other parts of fishing rather than just the prize at the end,” Dean said.

Henderson, Dean and Buchanan have all expressed lots of interest in fly fishing, as it requires more attention to detail and a stronger sense of purpose.

“When you’re fly fishing you try to imitate what the fish is eating. What the trout will do is it will hone in on eating a certain bug or certain food source, so with your fly you are trying to match that food source and present it to the fish in a way that’s natural,” Dean said.

Alongside requiring more focus, fly fishing is also appealing to all three seniors because it is more interactive. Instead of waiting for the fish, there are different ways to change the approach to catching fish.

“You’re trying to present the fly in a manner that the fish would want to eat it,” Buchanan said. “It’s just constantly recasting and mending.”

Not only is there much variety within the sport of fishing, but those who fish are immersed in nature, and with this, they learn to value the ecosystem.

“Protecting fishing is something that I’ve always thought about because it’s really in jeopardy and it’s really exploited, so keeping it healthy [is important],” Henderson said.

For Dean, heading the fishing club is not the only way he has brought fishing to the community. He also teaches kids how to fish, and helps bring them into the sport through the non-profit organization Trout Unlimited.

The future of fishing for these three seniors will continue on past high school. Buchanan and Dean explain how they have planned trips revolved around fishing and catching certain species. Buchanan hopes to travel to the Amazon, and Dean wants to travel to both New Zealand and Alaska. On top of all of this, they all hope to continue to expand the sport of fishing to all.

“[Trout Unlimited is] all about getting more people into fly fishing, because fly fishermen are the best conservationists. They really care about the ecosystem and want to make sure that the fisheries are sustainable and able to be enjoyed for years to come,” Dean said. “I am big into that conservation part and also just spreading the love of fly fishing to other people.”

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About the Contributor
Amanda Morse, Former Staff
Amanda Morse is a senior at Redwood High School and is a Reporter for The Redwood Bark. She loves spending time with her friends and family, and her favorite place to be is the beach. Amanda plays both lacrosse and soccer, and enjoys surfing, snowboarding and wake boarding.