Lately, I’ve been contemplating my purpose. How exactly does one figure out what their purpose is? And how do we make the most of our short time here on earth with the most purpose? Life’s big questions are best answered, for me at least, while in a river.  

I’m not sure I have it figured out yet, but filling my life with as much fly fishing as possible has got to be part of it. So, every chance I get, I head to the river near my house. Dipping my feet into the cold water, I think about what makes me most happy and fulfilled. While I release one willing trout after another, I realize part of my purpose has to be to share my passion of fly fishing with others.  

Over the years, I’ve taught friends to fish, held women’s fly fishing lessons and outings, connected with other anglers through the fly fishing industry and now through my work with TU telling stories of the good work we do to make fishing better. I feel very fortunate that my passion is my career, but I know there’s more I can do.  

The view from atop Mount Ouray.

A friend I taught how to fish a few years ago was in a serious fishing slump. She’d gone out on her own a few times and with me a few times but always came away from the river skunked. To celebrate her birthday this year, she decided we should climb one of Colorado’s many 13,000-foot peaks. With my current health condition, I wasn’t sure I could make it, but her patience and perseverance got me to the top of that peak for amazing views and time well spent. Once we got back down to camp, we decided we should try to get her a fish, so we took off towards the upper Rio Grande. With stormy skies, we hustled down the trail and immediately started catching fish. In one run, I bet we landed upwards of 20 nice-sized trout. She was thrilled and I couldn’t be more pumped to see her catch fish. Patience and perseverance paid off for a glorious birthday weekend.  

We couldn’t have planned a better birthday celebration.

Recently, my nieces came to visit and after a couple of days on SUPs at the lake, we were ready for more movement, so we took the whole family up to one of my favorite high-country streams. My oldest niece knew the thrill of catching a fish, so she was excited to try it again. The next in line hadn’t caught a fish yet, but she knows how much I love it, so she was willing to give it a try, and my brother-in-law has dabbled enough to know the thrill of the sport. 

I love helping my nieces grow to love the sport.

We packed lunches and raincoats and moseyed down the trail. Once we arrived at a good pool below a waterfall, I set up my nieces and handed them the rods. The oldest one immediately had trout after trout leap for her fly. With too much line on the water, she missed the hook set too many times to count. But her persistence paid off and she finally caught a beautiful little cutthroat. The little one was losing patience, so she went with my husband upstream to see what they could find. At the end of the day, we all caught fish, laughed a lot and celebrated with high fives and burritos.  

Seeing the glee on other’s faces when fly fishing clicks for them is one of my great joys in life. To that end, I think I’ll keep fishing to learn how I can best serve my purpose and keep teaching friends and loved ones to fish. I’m sure with more time on the water, I’ll come up with more ways to evolve my purpose.  

Kara Armano is the southwest region communications director for Trout Unlimited. She lives and works in Durango, Colo.