"I have an even greater appreciation for a career I get to spend outside.It’s more comforting to me now then it’s ever been.”
Several years back, Buffalo Jackson crossed paths with Harrison Beckwith, an outdoor adventurer and full-time fly guide based in Cashiers, North Carolina. He shared with us how he found his way into an outdoor lifestyle that many dream of and the opportunities it has afforded him along the way. While we would have preferred to catch up on the river, we had a chance to share a recent phone conversation with Harrison to learn about what life has looked like in his industry during such unusual times.
As the old saying goes...when it rains, it pours.
“It was kind of like a 1-2 punch with the pandemic followed by one of the wettest May’s in history. Here we are, chomping at the bit to get back to work...and then comes 12 inches of rainfall in one month. But that’s the nature of this business. You are always at Mother Nature’s mercy. Fortunately, we got through it and were able to book enough trips in to make it work. Now I’ve been on the water pretty much every day.”
As the effects of social distancing were felt worldwide, fly fishing guides like Harrison were quickly separated from the familiar names and faces they’ve come to know.
“I’ve definitely been missing my regular customers during the pandemic. They become your friends over the years. As they return to fish with you, they become more than just a customer. I missed that aspect of it.”
Since the fly shop’s reopening was quickly followed by the wettest May the Southern Appalachians have experienced since 1910, it’s no surprise that Harrison and the team at Brookings Anglers have been busy welcoming back their regular customers and meeting new ones along the way. Reintroducing them to the wild, natural places that have seemed out of reach for many in recent months, and now have taken on a whole new meaning to the those who are finding their way back once again.
“It’s been refreshing to see people ready to get back out there, reconnecting with them and getting back to doing what we enjoy doing. I think many of the people that live in urban or city settings,they’ve come to realize that they don’t utilize some of our natural resources enough. Maybe protecting and preserving them is one thing we can learn from all of this.”
It’s easy to sense the appreciation and responsibility Harrison feels for his natural surroundings...for the rivers, streams, and lakes that have given him so much. A renewed appreciation in the midst of our unprecedented circumstances.
“This whole thing started because of the effects of having such a dense population of people close together. Fly fishing offers that opportunity to get away from that and be in a healthy environment. One where you’re not on top of people and your goal really is to try and separate yourself.“
As we all adjust to life as we now know it...as we all strive to reconnect with the people and places that make us feel alive...we know where we can find Harrison.
“There’s not really any place safer than coming out into nature where things are pure. It’s a reminder of how important these places are and how we need to protect them and preserve them. Through all of this, I have an even greater appreciation for a career I get to spend outside. It’s more comforting to me now then it’s ever been.”
You can follow Harrison's work and exploration through his Instagram, @Riverwizard