11: Becoming True Fishermen

11: Becoming True Fishermen

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Tales of Golf and Sport

Becoming True Fishermen

Most summers, my extremely busy retirement schedule permitting, I travel to the beautiful Rocky Mountain town of Telluride, Colorado. The Sheridan Arts Foundation has an ongoing effort there, helped by a willing contingent of well-known celebrities, to restore the historic Sheridan Opera House and support its theatrical training program. Another part of the Foundation’s program is its annual Wild West Fest.

Each summer the Sheridan Arts Foundation, in partnership with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, brings a large number of inner-city and underprivileged children to Telluride for a magnificent week of Wild West activities. As part of the program, which includes mentorships in theater, horsemanship, art, music and Indian hoop dancing, they offer the kids an opportunity to learn how to fly-fish. I have been very fortunate to be involved with that program, helping these great kids learn some of the secrets of my favorite pastime.

One of my fondest memories occurred a couple of summers ago when I was teaching a young inner-city boy from Atlanta how to fly-fish. At one point, I was so taken with our beautiful Western Colorado surroundings that I asked, “Have you ever seen mountains prettier than these?”

He looked at me and said, “Sir, I have never seen any mountains.”

It suddenly made me realize how blessed are we who have enjoyed the sport of fly-fishing in beautiful, natural surroundings.

Later on that day I was conducting a mentorship discussion with the kids, and I publicly asked my young fishing partner how many fish he had caught. He proudly stood up among his peers and announced he had caught four fish. That immediately caused several other kids to jump to their feet claiming five, six, seven and so on. Needless to say, when I asked how big, claims were made of every size from minnows to tiger sharks and everything in between.

It was at that moment I proudly realized these kids had become true fishermen.

~General H. Norman Schwarzkopf
Chicken Soup for the Fisherman’s Soul

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