Baker Bishop started fly fishing when he was ten years old. His mom sparked this life long passion, teaching him how to cast, tie flies, read the river, respect fish, and so on. Her grandfather, a bamboo-rod builder and angler, taught her the same skills many years before.
Today, if Baker isn't down in the Keys as a contender in the most competitive fly fishing tournaments in the world, you can find him staked out in the Lowcountry flats with his son, Ryder, and daughter, Lucy, teaching them the same skills and life lessons that have floated down through his family, generation after generation
A true adventurer, Baker keeps his "live life big" mindset while being a great dad, husband, and mentor. To gear up for this year's Father's Day, we caught up with Baker on a blue bird afternoon on Sullivan's Island and asked him a few questions about family, fatherhood, and fly fishing.
Tell us about your upbringing as it relates to fly fishing and your family.
My mom, Sandie Bishop, grew up fly fishing on the rivers of East Tennessee with her grandfather, Pop Kohlhase. Pop was an avid fisherman and made beautiful bamboo rods. I started seriously fly fishing when I was 10, and have been at it ever since. My father and brothers are accomplished anglers in their own right, but my mom and I have always shared a deep passion for all things fly fishing. She taught me how to tie flies, read rivers, to respect the fish, and their habitat. I spent my college years and several years after in Bozeman Montana, where I was able to enjoy so many of the great western rivers.
In 2000, my mom called me and said she had found a place that I may really like, and I should come down and check out the Florida Keys. Once again, she led me onto a path that changed my life and has brought me more joy than I could ever imagine: fly fishing in salt water.
What did those early principles that you learned lead to?
This month, I leave for my 17th Tarpon season in a row and this will be the 14th season I've fished the 3 tarpon fly tournaments down in the Keys. I have won 2 of the tarpon fly tournaments and have a bunch of top 3 finishes. I also have won a fly fishing Redfish/Snook tournament and have won a fly fishing Sailfish tournament as well.
I feel so blessed to have fly fishing in my life, and to have had parents that cared enough to take the time to introduce it to me. The places it’s taken me and the lessons I’ve learned along the way, have helped shape the man I am today.
What life lessons has fly fishing taught you?
Fly fishing teaches you humility and patience. It teaches you to slow down. It's an activity that requires such focus and concentration that you lose yourself in the moment and you clear your mind. Which in this fast paced electronic world, is a very good and needed thing.
It requires a lot of practice, and you build upon your skills over a lifetime. I’m still learning and fine tuning, and I love that my kids see that and are each developing their own skills.
It’s also great watching their confidence grow as they improve their own casting.
How are you implementing this with your own daughter and son?
As with any good outdoor activity, fly fishing teaches kids to care about the environment and to respect nature. It just happens. Kids that are out on the water or in nature, are more apt to care about what’s going on in the environment. They have more knowledge and first hand experience.
I love more than anything to pass on my skills. Not only to my kids, but to anyone with a real passion and desire to learn and get better.