In Norton, Vermont - the heart of Quimby Country - nine teenage boys and girls gathered together on a quest to go fly-fishing. Experience with fly-fishing rod ranged from a few years to none. The first day was spent getting to know one another and practicing our forward casting. At night, we laughed and joked amongst ourselves, excited to get to know each other in the days to come. Meals were eaten quickly in order to maximize the allotted time to fly-fish. After being taught how to tie flies, the small period of time before breakfast was spent tying flies at wooden tables. One could safely say that we had submerged ourselves eye-deep in fly-fishing.
The people at the camp were what made our fishing experience unique. Each counselor had given their time to teach us some tips and tricks of fly-fishing. The camp was a mix of hyper teenagers, current college students, and older men and women who had spent a significant part of their lives fly-fishing. On the way to Carr Bridge or a nearby pond, all nine campers would pile into a van, and soon the air would be filled with the laughter and mischievous voices of teenagers making jokes and creating nicknames for one another.
As the van pulled up at Carr Bridge, the jokes and laughter died down. It was time to go fishing. Campers and counselors were paired up and claimed their own sections of the river. Over the many hours spent on the Trophy Section of the Connecticut River, almost every camper caught two or more fish - save one poor soul who could not catch a thing throughout the entire camp. A crowning achievement of mine at the camp was catching a 20-inch, three-pound wild brown trout - the largest fish caught at the camp.
Some unique experiences at Trout Camp were the campers being filmed for national television. The second morning spent at Carr Bridge, a New Hampshire Conservation Officer arrived with a truck to stock the river with fish, along with a few cameramen who were filming a segment for North Woods Law: New Hampshire. Cameras and drones recorded us carrying three-pound brook and rainbow trout down to the river to be released into their new habitat. Two days later, another camera crew filming for a news channel in Vermont arrived to capture footage of the camp. Once again, the campers piled into a van and headed off to a nearby pond so that we might be filmed while practicing casting. A few people were interviewed for the Vermont new channel - including myself - which is an honor in itself.
Nearing the end of camp, I began to realize how much I had changed during the brief period of time spent in Quimby Country. Fly-fishing takes place in the most beautiful places in the world, as fish only live in beautiful places. Gone were the days spent in boredom in classrooms, gone were the hours in front of the television; fly-fishing requires laser-sharp, constant focus on the end of your line, lest you miss that four or five-pound trout hitting your line. Spending time in some of the most beautiful places in the world allows one to fall in love with nature. Catching your first fish - or your biggest fish - sparks a feeling in your body that is indescribable, nor can be compared to anything else.
At the end of camp, I reluctantly parted ways with the people and the place I had become so close with over a four-day period. Everyone bonded together, whether it be at a meal, in a cabin, or on the water. The time spent at Car Bridge allowed myself and the other campers to fully explore nature at its finest. I emerged from camp both a better fly-fisher and a better person, as spending time in nature allows one to get in touch with themselves again. The first night I returned home, I felt more confident, more at peace, and more focused. The sparkle in my eyes when I caught the three-pound brown trout never left me, and as I drifted to sleep, my thoughts were filled with girls and boys casting across a river, vying for the next fish.
A special thanks to the Ammonoosuc Chapter of Trout Unlimited for helping me attend this camp.