Growing up as a kid in Colorado, Hannah Kramer (@redheaded_angler on Instagram) fished but would “get bored after like 20 minutes.”
It was not until after her father passed away three years ago that Hannah picked up a rod again.
“He was a huge fly angler,” she says. “About a year after he passed away, I found dad’s gear and decided to learn how to fly fish. I thought it would be a way for me to honor his memory and to feel close to him.”
Hannah got started by taking some of the beginner classes offered by fly gear giant, Orvis.
“I took some of the free Orvis 101 classes,” she says. “And then I asked for advice on local fly fishing social media groups. A few people actually offered to take me out — It was awesome, and I learned quite a bit.”
“I’ve been teaching myself ever since,” Hannah says.
Her go-to fishery is the Blue River near Dillon and Silverthorne in the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests.
“The fishing is beautiful and it’s close to home,” she says.
Right now, Hannah has one primary target species.
“Trout,” she says. “Someday, I would love to explore warm water species, but I love trout.”
Fly fishing provides a release from Hannah’s day-to-day work.
“I’m a teacher at a high-security correctional facility for 15 to 21 year-old boys,” she says. “I’m a special education teacher, so I have eight guys all day long and teach all their subjects. I love it.”
As much as fishing is a release from her sometimes-stressful career, it also offers lessons that she can apply on the job.
“I’ve learned a lot of patience with fishing,” Hannah says. “I work with the ‘worst of the worst’ — these are kids who have committed real crimes and also have special needs or learning disabilities — and the patience that fishing teaches has helped me with the job. Patience is important, because sometimes I need to remain calm in order to de-escalate a situation.”
But Hannah’s work is a two-way street.
“At the same time, the guys have taught me a lot,” she says. “Working with them helps me appreciate all that I have and the opportunities available to me. Like simply being out in all the beauty that Colorado has to offer.”
The patience that she’s learned from fly fishing has also come in handy with another aspect of the sport: The art of fly-tying.
“I decided to teach myself how to tie my own flies,” Hannah says.
She’s posted live videos and stories of herself on Instagram and Snapchat throughout the process, inviting her followers to learn along with her.
Probably not coincidentally, Hannah’s favorite fly to tie is also her favorite to use on the water.
“The pheasant tail nymph,” she says. “I love it because it works and because it’s challenging. I’ve probably tied a hundred and still haven’t perfected it.”
The pheasant tail mimics a mayfly pattern. She also likes the rainbow warrior.
“It works really well, too,” she says. “It mimics some sort of midge.”
Recently, Hannah went on a fishing trip with one of her dad’s old fishing buddies.
“He told me about what it was like to fish with my dad, and what my dad liked,” she said. “It was an amazing experience.”
And it’s the feeling of connection to her dad that continues to draw Hannah to fishing.
“I want to keep going out and exploring his favorite rivers and seeing where he fished,” she says. “I am still feeling the connection to him every time I go out.”