Casting Forward by Steve Ramirez

| November 10, 2020

“Perhaps fly fishing through uncertainty didn’t teach me anything about where I’m going or what comes next. Perhaps what I have learned is not where to go, but rather how to be. Perhaps this is the greatest lesson anyone can ever learn.”

Casting Forward – Steve Ramirez

“Casting Forward – Fishing Tales from the Texas Hill Country,” out in early November, is a tall glass of sweet Texas spring water on a hot Texas day. We so often forget – zone out and zone in on what fly, where and how to catch -that we don’t take the time to stop and breathe, look around and actually take in the big beautiful drink that is the Texas Hill Country. 

While we devoured Aaron Reed’s book on the Texas Hill Country earlier this year, consuming his recommendations, when, where and how to do what we love to do, I now suggest you turn to Ramirez’s book for the why – why we do what we love to do – fly fish. If you think in terms of the big picture, then consider Reed’s book our sociological guide and Ramirez? His book is a spiritual guide, internalizing the tactile world and flying above it, looking out and down, through eyes of a soaring bird. 

As I turned the last page, and closed the book, I wondered how it came to be. How could weI find the right person, in the right place at the right time?

His openness, writing about his past, present and future – are refreshing at a time when fly fishing is caught up in a virus-driven burst of new fly fishing interest and pumped up by a generation of surface-living twenty-somethings who are looking for that one ingredient, in this case fly fishing, to help them go viral on Instagram or YouTube. Steve is not a twenty-something, so that has something to do with his attitude, but there are plenty of older fly fishing personalities who have succumbed to the cult of personality in recent years as well.

When I asked for his recommendations on living authentic life, he said:

 “Throughout the history of humanity, there have always been society wide challenges like pandemics, economic recessions and war. There will always be personal challenges like the uncertainty of continued health and wellness. That’s life! Nature teaches us that life is uncertain, ever changing, and not fair. Fairness is a human construct and only exist to the extent we chose to give it. Nature is simply honest. Things live and die in a true circle of life. 

Frequently, I write and publish essays in which I jokingly refer to myself as an “Imperfect Texan Buddha.” These essays are often about the correlation between being mindful and being authentic. Mindfulness teacher Ram Dass once wrote, “In most of our human relationships, we spend much of our time reassuring one another that our costumes of identity are on straight.” Being authentic is not caring about assuming an expected identity based on the expectations or assumptions of others, and instead, learning and growing to become our “best self.”

Make no mistake though, his mix of buggers and Clousers, fish species and restaurants do make you want to dog-ear some pages for future road tripping “research.” But the value in these words are what they catch and release from within our own spirits, our own souls. 

And his siren call for rescuing Texas resources, a new attitude toward conservation and experiencing Texas outdoors by Texans? This is just another topic at the right time for myself, as I see the changes in my local water over the last decade. My question to Steve was, “What can we do about this?”

  • First and foremost, we need to change our worldview about nature and our responsibility as part of it, rather than being apart from it. I hope to provide entertaining stories of life in the outdoors, while sharing information and increasing understanding about the state of our watersheds, landscapes, and air. I hope to get my fellow anglers, hunters, hikers, outdoor enthusiast to better see our connection with nature, and its connection with us. I hope to help create a movement of people who profess to love the outdoors, to become evermore mindful of our need to move from “sportsmen,” to “participant in nature,” to “naturalist and advocate” for the places we love. Unlimited extraction is not love; giving back and caretaking are actions of love. It’s not a “natural resource,” it’s a part of nature, and everything is connected to everything. 
  • Second, I believe it is a positive step forward to join and support organizations such as Trout Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, Audubon, and others that responsibly focus not only on a single species of “game animal,” but also the watersheds and habitats that support them. This is out home too. 
  • Third, we need to reconnect our youth to the outdoors and nature. We only save that which we love, and we only love that which we know. Especially inner-city kids…need nature. We are losing this connection, and the outcome is more health and emotional challenges, and less empathy, resilience, and coping skills. And we can all make small differences in our own back yard. Plant only native species, remove lawns whenever possible and use native ground covers, be mindful of the impacts of our choices on the wild places around us. Everything we do in our yard, ends up in our rivers.  Little things matter, when they all come together.

Another of those spiritual questions during these strange times that he grapples with, is how to deal with being kicked out, or bailing out of what the world has determined you should do for a living, and finding value in existing, in being. For so many of us, Steve included, being past the half-century mark, trapped in bodies much older on the outside than in, this is some heavy mental lifting. In our twenties we drilled inside by asking ourselves, and being asked, “What do you want to be? What color is your parachute?” Now as we plow straight into our sixties, we consider what we were, and instead of “What do we want to be (now)?” We should take Steve’s advice and start by just being – stop and breathe. 

“Fly fishing is one of the best ways I know to practice living in the moment, letting go of all the junk that society and those around us might heap onto our shoulders. It is also a way to let go of all the junk we put upon ourselves. As we become more mindful and self-aware, we become more real. Just as I practice my casting or fly presentation, I also practice peeling off the layers of other people’s baggage… and my own. I let go. I become freer and at more at peace. Nature and fly fishing teaches and heals us… if we pay attention,” he said.

Steve is every bit as obsessed with the internal ticking clock, ticking down, as I find myself these days. It is just something I don’t often like to talk about. And I felt time was short long before my medical brouhaha of five years ago. It is what brings us a latent drive to seize the time we have no matter how long or short, and wring as much out of that rag as we can. 

“I had no plans except to fish and write and heal and, ultimately, to live.”

Casting Forward – Steve Ramirez

END NOTE: Thanks to author Steve Ramirez for taking his valuable time to answer my questions! I also found out that today November 10, the Birthday of the founding of the USMC, his second manuscript – a follow-up to “Casting Forward” is being submitted to his publisher.


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Category: Body-Mind-Soul, Book Reviews, Causes, Writing

About the Author () is where to find my other day job. I write and photograph fish stories professionally, and for free here! Journalist by training. This site is for telling true fishing news stories, unless otherwise noted.

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