Story and Photos: Learning to Love the Outdoors Again

Written by: Michael O’Brien

Miranda’s personal-best brown trout, landed last weekend, taped at 24 inches.
Photo by Michael O’Brien

When Miranda and I met about six years ago, she wasn’t interested in the outdoors. She had fished and even done some hunting when she was younger, but she didn’t keep up with it through high school and college. She chose to invest all of her time into studying, while her twin sister was more the outdoorsy one.

After we met, Miranda began accompanying me on all my outdoor adventures, which surprised her family. Her sister even gave her speech at our wedding last fall about how shocked she was when Miranda gave her a weekend update about a five-mile hike we’d done, post-holing through snow, into a mountain lake to see if it was open yet. (It wasn’t.)

Michael’s love of the outdoors–and fly fishing–inspired Miranda to rediscover her own.
Photo by Miranda O’Brien

Shortly before we got married, I asked her why she started doing everything outdoors, and if she truly loved doing it. Her response was that, early into our relationship, she realized that if she was going to get to spend any time with me, she would have to give some of these outdoor activities a try. And she said that she enjoys the things we do more and more every year. After a particularly hard day at work recently, she said, “I sure wish I had found my love for the outdoors at an earlier age.”

Which brings us to fly fishing–the most challenging activity (for both of us) that we have tried yet. When I was in Alaska fishing the Kenai, I asked my guide about what I should do or try to help her learn to fly fish. He said that the best thing would be to hire her a guide and then don’t go fishing that day. Well, I didn’t take his advice, and there were some really tough days for both of us. But now she is really starting to find what works for her and her own style, which has been a ton of fun to watch. This weekend, she caught her personal best brown (24 inches) and rainbow (26 inches) back-to-back, and she actually got to complain about how her forearm was tired by the end of the day.

This 26-inch rainbow came to the net soon after the big brown above.
Photo by Michael O’Brien

We got married last September, and when I asked her what she wanted to do for our honeymoon, she said, “Let’s go fishing.” I suggested somewhere tropical with beaches, where we could just fish a day or two and relax. Her response was something along the lines that such a trip didn’t “sound like us.” Having listened to all my stories about Alaska, she suggested that we postpone our honeymoon, and head to Alaska this summer for an almost-exclusively-fishing trip. I readily agreed.

We will fly-fish on the Upper Kenai for rainbows, dollies, and sockeyes; fly out to find an early run of silvers that are known to hit Pollywogs with reckless abandon; try for kings on the lower Kenai; and a take a couple trips out on the big water, including an overnight halibut charter.

Miranda’s first fish on a fly rod was this sweet grayling.
Photo by Michael O’Brien

Although some people called us crazy for doing our honeymoon this way, I think it fits us better. I truly hope she has some days where her arms get sore, and we come back home exhausted from all the fishing.

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