Please allow me to offer some fatherly advice about where to find a man with whom to share the rest of your life. Spoiler alert: this may involve the purchase of waders and a fly rod.
As you well know, most of my input to you up until this point, in this regard, has been that all guys are jerks and scumbags. I should know; I self-identify as one myself. (he,him,scumbag)
I remember vividly my reaction when I was standing in the delivery room when each of you was born. As the joyous, “It’s a girl!” pronouncement reached my ears, my next thought was, “How am I going to protect my new precious, innocent daughter from scumbag boys who are just like me.” Even though I was a scumbag, on a scale of scumbags, I considered myself on the low end of the scale. But a scumbag nonetheless. It was very unsettling to think that scumbags worse than me would be coming after you when you were coming of age.
So, I took it upon myself to thusly give you the proper indoctrination towards the unfairer sex as you were growing up. I remember the conversations we had when you were in middle school; when you were going from the age where relationships between boys and girls too often went from platonic to playing tatas in the dark.
I said something like, “Beautiful daughters, guys are jerks. Especially teenage guys. These aren’t the guys that are going to marry you. They are the ones who are looking to you to validate their self-worth or who will try out their MTV-fed fantasies on you and then move on to the next victim. Wait for a while for the guys to mature before you start dating, like until your thirties.”
Thankfully, you saved your mother and me many sleepless nights by following our advice. You eschewed the guys and developed healthy relationships with your respective circles of girlfriends. You have always been very secure without needing a boyfriend to make you feel good about yourself. We are very proud of you.
But now that you (and the guys) have reached a suitable age, it’s time to take off the “No Trespassing” signs and put up a “For Sale By Owner.”
Contrary to what you may think, there are still some great guys out there that have never been hooked before.
I also want to disabuse you of another nefarious notion: that you are not a great catch. Nothing could be further from the truth. You are at the peak of your feminine pulchritude. Besides your amazing intellects, you are kind, thoughtful, great fun to be around, and have compassionate hearts.
Also, maybe most importantly, you aren’t carrying all the excess baggage of broken relationships, and the mistrust and cynicism that comes from such. You are truly jewels waiting to meet the right guy.
There are two places where I would encourage you to begin your search: at church and on a river.
The former is obvious. That’s where you will find mature and loving men who are pursuing godliness and righteousness. If they are doing that and you are doing that, you could find the same kind of joyful marriage like your mom and I have. Even godly guys aren’t perfect, but they know how to ask for forgiveness and how to put your needs before their own. You gotta be fishing in those waters first.
But I’ve been thinking lately about how fly fishing can lead you to a great husband too. Speaking as a guy, there is just something about seeing a woman standing knee deep in a river that is strangely attractive.
It’s a mystery how women can weave their ponytails through the back of their fishing caps and look so darn cute. Dark glasses, dangly earrings, a little makeup, and painted fingernails all serve as strike triggers for guys. Baggy waders, cinched around the waist, keep men guessing about the figure that is hidden within. It’s not a sexy outfit like you’ll see in Vogue, but I’m just sayin’… a woman in fly fishing gear has a strange attraction to a fly fisherman.
Before I go any further, let me make it clear that you are not looking for a BAIT fishermen. Bait fishermen are looking for the easy way out. They sit in their chairs by the river, put something stinky like a worm, salmon egg, or cricket on their hook, and just sit there and wait for the better judgment of a fish to be overcome by its olfactory senses, and bite the bait.
The bait fisherman will crank his 5.7:1 ratio reel with 20# test line as fast as he can. He puts his treble-hooked beauty on a stringer so it can’t get away while he fishes for more. Then he takes the trout home and throws it in the freezer until it gets freezer burn, then throws it away.
You want a guy that is going to work harder for you than that.
The bait fisherman will fish for you just like he fishes for trout. He will show you his car, house, and bank account, show you his biceps, abs, and pecs, show you his mom, sister, and dog, and hope that after long enough, you’ll be overcome by your baser instincts and bite.
But a fly fisherman will be all about you. He’ll wade out to where you and your friends like to hang, he’ll try to figure out what flies (metaphorically speaking) that you are interested in this week and offer that to you. When you show interest in what he’s offering, he’ll bring you in gently, being careful not to wear you out, and in many cases, release you quickly if he doesn’t have long term intentions for you. If he wants to keep you, he will put you up on a pedestal.
As a father, I didn’t give you much help in becoming a fly fisher. It was a maturity issue. Not yours, but mine. I wasn’t mature enough to take time away from my own fishing to teach you how to do it. But also, I was in my mid-fifties by the time I picked up fly fishing myself, and you ladies had pretty much left the nest by then. But still, I had my opportunities and, I’m sad to say, I squandered them.
But better late than never – an expression I recently coined.
How to get started? I’ve given this a little thought, and I’d suggest calling up your local fly shop and find out when they are offering a fly fishing class for beginners. This will give you a chance to meet a dozen or so men and women over the course of several weeks who are just learning the sport like you are. Usually, these classes offer an actual trip to a local river to apply what you learn.
Don’t be disappointed if THE ONE is not in this class. But look around the class for a possible fishing buddy that you can hang out with and learn the sport together. Find out where the most popular places to fly fish are and go fly fishing with your ponytail pulled through your fishing cap.
Now if a guy comes up to you while you are fishing and asks if you have caught anything, or what you are fishing with etc., that’s a strike indicator. If you are interested, ask him if he’s caught anything, what he is fishing with, etc.
If he offers you some of his flies, or offers to show you a productive place to fish, take the flies, check out his fishing spot, and flash your earrings. Guys, like trout, can’t resist shiny things. Even if this goes nowhere, you’ve scored some new flies and a good fishing spot.
Of course, I can’t guarantee that fly fishing will secure you a wonderful husband. But you’ll learn an outdoor hobby that you can enjoy for the rest of your life. And you will be in the unique position of fishing while being fished for.
So, to summarize, my fatherly advice is to start looking for the right guy in church and in the river. I may be taking this Bible verse a little out of context, but Jesus himself said in Matthew 4:19, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
P.S. I was once a bait fisherman myself. Probably some of Jesus’ disciples were too. They aren’t as bad as I made them out to be. I just got carried away.
12 thoughts on “Letter to My Unmarried Daughters”
Funny stuff, Bill, and you’re spot on about the ponytail-ballcap thing.
It’s equally effective on lady tennis players, golfers, and pickle ballers.
Great read bill, I have 2 daughters of 14 and 16 years old. Time for them to learn the ways of the fly rod!! Thanks for the insight!!
Now’s the time, Steve! Carpe Diem, or should we say Troute Diem?
Scumbag is right. Can’t a woman enjoy a day on the water without worrying you’ll be envisioning their body under their waders?
We have a policy that comments must be attached to a real name. Please do so next time? Thank you!
Thanks for your feedback, Disappointed. Your take on what I wrote about women in baggy waders was not at all what I intended. How I blunder in my writing never ceases to amaze me.
Your daughters are fortunate to have a wise and loving dad.
Dave, thanks, but it might be wise to let my daughters write before we jump to conclusions about my fatherly virtues. By the way, I did let them read and approve the article before I submitted it. The main complaint was that one of them didn’t like the “all men are scumbags” part. But I stand by it. See comment by Disappointed.
Your writing is great; observant and full of fun…..so when does the book come out?
Thanks, Richard P. I’d love to pull together some of these articles from blogflyfish and make them available in a little book for my kids and grandkids someday, if Jo will give me permission.