Rick Thompson, North Chattanooga
What sparked your interest in fishing?
I started when I was six years old. My uncle Harold, a devout fisherman, taught me his ways. I loved to help dig up worms for him and watch as he caught, cleaned, and fried up the fish. I also liked to throw rocks into the lake, but he wasn’t very encouraging about that …
What’s your biggest catch to date?
The largest fish was a 23-pound Brown Trout in Argentina, but the best large fish ever was a 36-inch Rainbow on the Soque River in North Georgia. I broke my rod at the very end, and the owner of the property jumped in the river to help keep my line from getting tangled in the bushes while I hand-lined it to the bank.
What is the most rewarding thing about fishing for you personally?
It’s my Zen time. Whether I’m fishing alone on a beautiful stretch of river or with my buddies, I love the quality of the time and place that I’m in.
Can you describe a memorable experience you’ve had on the water?
I lost my best friend a few years ago. He was the most talented and graceful fly casting artist I have ever seen. After he passed away, a group of us took his ashes on six trips to six of his favorite rivers and released them where he loved to be most.
Any advice for beginners?
Like a wise fly shop owner in Montana told me 30 years ago, “Keep your gear wet and your powder dry.” But seriously, make the time to go, watch the folks around you, don’t be afraid to ask a million questions, and keep your gear wet!
Is there anything you’d like to add?
For all you fishers out there, pay it forward … pass this love and respect of the outdoors on to the next generation. Fishing builds character.