BRYANNA ZIMMERMAN

Blog: http://steelheadgirls.com/bryannas-blog/

I’ll start out by saying, I didn’t start out with a burning passion for fishing. I didn’t grow up with it, I didn’t love it my first time, and I wasn’t an “outdoor girl” before fishing.

I was 17 and a senior cheerleader my first time fishing. My boyfriend, Jeff, wanted to take me. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it. It was April so the weather was nice but I got into some Stinging Neddles and I was less than thrilled to watch a fish lose its life. I loved it a lot more after I caught my first steelhead (in all of it’s spawned out glory) and we went a few more times but stopped after we stopped dating.

 

We started dating again a couple years later and I started fishing again. Still, I didn’t love it, but I must have had the passion deep inside of me because I kept going even through my worst winter spent fishing. for some reason, I just couldn’t stop accepting the offers to go back out.

Here are some highlights of my first 4 months of fishing:

I went knee deep in mud the first day I wore my new waders/boots (keep in mind I still wasn’t an outdoor girl)

I got a bladder infection because I wouldn’t go to the bathroom outside or in a port-o-potty (sorry if that’s TMI)

I cried the entire way down the river in my first drift boat trip because we literally were in a blizzard and Jeff made me fish

I cried after I released my first wild fish. Not because it was so moving, but because I couldn’t kill it and I didn’t understand their glory and beauty and I wanted to bring home a trophy.

His mom (bless her heart) would have hot drinks, bought me toasty Uggs to wear when we returned, and gave me warm soapy water to get the dirt out of my nails.

So, my true love for fishing didn’t just happen. There was always some sort of spark that kept me going and the feeling of catching fish that winter was more rewarding than those terrible memories, but it took a while for me to really love fishing.

I invested in good rain gear, bought gloves, and learned how to be a little more comfortable outdoors. I found so much reward from catching fish and impressing Jeff with my desire to learn.

Sometimes I miss the days when Jeff would do EVERYTHING for me, but what really motivated me was being able to do these things myself. I studied, read (he forced me to watch River Kings about a thousand times), I went on Steelhead University everyday and I watched Jeff repeatedly get everything ready for fishing so I could learn. Thank goodness he was patient!

It really wasn’t until I got good rain gear that I began to let my love grow for this strange passion inside of me. When my only thought every day wasn’t “where can I hide from the rain”, I was able to really focus on fishing and get that satisfying feeling of doing good, and hopefully catch fish.

It’s been 10 years since my first time fishing and it means more to me each time I go. I have some of the most amazing people in my life because of fishing and those friendships will last a lifetime, far longer than most friendships that begin in a bar on Friday nights.

I’m a really busy person. I work full time, go to school full time, and make sure that I get adequate family time in my life. Since I didn’t come from fishing, it took several years for my family to understand how much it meant to me and to realize that it wasn’t going anywhere and if they planned something on a Saturday or Sunday, I probably wouldn’t make it because I need to fish.

Some think that fishing would stress me out more because it has meant that for the past several years, I run errands, clean, do homework, and visit family, work, and school on Monday through Friday only, but it actually is exactly what centers me. Without fishing, I tend to just work 7 days a week. I fill my time with anything I can to keep busy and I never end up taking a break.

Fishing has exposed me to so many beautiful places and people and when do take a weekend away from fishing, I find myself regretting it Monday. I still don’t like mud and dirt and bugs, but I can tolerate a lot more than I ever used to. I’ve never been this passionate about something and I’m not sure where it came from but fishing is responsible for a lot of the strength that I have today. I am a better person because I get to enjoy the beautiful state we live in and because I get to remove myself from the hustle and bustle of everyday city life. I found out that if I work hard, I can be rewarded. And that the longer I go through a dry spell period, the more rewarding the fish is when I finally get out of that slump. Without fishing, I’m not sure my relationship would have survived the past 6 years of ignoring Jeff during the week while I run around like there’s 5 of me. I get to spend every weekend with my best friend doing what we love.

I get to escape reality and put all my focus and new things learned to find a fish. My friends and co-workers don’t quite see the beauty in the fish that I catch, but because I know how much work goes into finding just one, each fish means something different to me.

 

Fishing isn’t just a hobby or my weekend vice, it’s my life.