Growing up outdoors isn't the only way to learn to love the river
People who have never spent meaningful time outdoors don't know what it's like to see a silent sunrise over a river or wake up to a foggy morning on a mountainside after unzipping a tent.
I believe we all have an inner passion for adventure, but it just takes the right person to ignite that flame. For me, that person was my father.
As the family tale goes, at the age of three my father took me and the rest of my family fishing on the Chesapeake. While I was holding up my fish to take a picture, the fish flipped, slapped me across the face, and landed back in the water. From that moment on, fishing has been my life.
My father and I both grew up chasing striped bass — the most iconic sport fish in the Chesapeake Bay. Sadly, throughout both our lives, we've seen a drastic decline in their abundance.
Whether it’s catching striped bass, working the fast spring shad run, or pulling out invasive river beasts, I love getting out on the Potomac. I go whenever I can.
The outdoors as a whole created an unbreakable bond between me and my family. Each and every member of my family grew up hiking, fishing, and exploring nature's gifts to us.
But I know not everyone grew up with the same experience.
The Potomac is a stone's throw away from where I live, and it's an ideal place to exercise my favorite pastime while introducing some of my friends to fishing.
I’m the guy who drags his friends out of bed early on a Saturday morning to hang out on a cold shoreline at Fletcher's Cove, and by the end of the day, we're nothing but smiles and laughter with pictures to remember.
I’ve already convinced over a dozen of my friends to venture out with me within a few cold months.
Watching a friend who's never caught a fish in his life pull up a 40-pound blue catfish as his first ever catch is a great experience.
Along with this love for nature, a lifestyle of respect for our planet has been engraved into my family's character. I feel as if it is my duty to spread that awareness to others while also doing my part for our planet.
It's the small things that motivate me, the things most people don’t notice, but are all around to those with an eye for detail. Whether it’s ospreys gliding over the gorge, a lone swan in the morning, or a blanketing fog covering the rolling hills that hug the river, each and every moment is unique. That's the beauty of the outdoors.
If I could ask everyone to do one thing for our planet, it would be to respect it.
Every time I go to Fletcher’s, I always leave with more trash than I brought. For someone to litter in such a special place is disrespectful not only to the people who care about the area but also, unbeknownst to the litterer, to the plants, animals, and river we all rely on.
It’s up to us to make this planet a better place.
But nothing can change with continued ignorance; isn't it about time we all go out and spark a fire in someone else?
Next month I challenge you to grab some friends and introduce them to the outdoors at Fletcher’s Cove at the biggest Potomac River cleanup of the year. You’ll get the chance to preserve this treasured place and enjoy a spring day along our hometown river.
And when you’re done, grab a fishing pole and make a go at nabbing the catch of a lifetime. You never know, you might just discover your lifelong passion.
About the Author
Christian is a high school senior from Centreville, Virginia. Christian will be attending Virginia Tech in the fall with plans to study environmental science.