Breaking down walls.
Improving all lives by serving men facing mental health challenges.
Back Cast. Verb. In fly fishing, casting is a back-and-forth motion of the rod and line that allows you to place your fly where you'd like. The back cast is when your rod and line are behind you. Much like the push back and forth of mental health, Fishing The Good Fight is here to help you place your fly in the right place and support you along the way.
Fishing the Good Fight, was created in 2019 when founder Jennings Hester realized that this was the type of organization he wished he had access to 15 years ago. The Denver-based nonprofit leverages proven therapeutic benefits of fly fishing to support men’s mental health organizations while shining a light on the complex intersection of modern masculinity and mental health. The team at FTGF strives to help reduce the mental health stigma and provide resources to help men take action and subsidize necessary services.
"I almost didn’t go. Probably the same reasons other guys are standing on the fence. Having sought mental health services in the past, it shouldn’t have been difficult to decide to go, but the stigma surrounding men’s mental health, the notion of sharing my thoughts, feelings, and ideas with others may have been what made me hesitant. I ended up taking one of the last spots on the first retreat and doing so was a major step forward in my life. Starting off as a participant and now continuing as a volunteer, I’ve had the opportunity to witness how important and powerful an organization like Fishing the Good Fight can be. Whether it’s raising awareness, normalizing the idea of seeking help, sharing what’s bringing you down, or the lifelong connections I’ve made with fellow participants and volunteers, this experience is invaluable."
Meet The Team
I started FTGF when I realized there was a void in awareness, services, and access for men's mental health. It is the type of organization I wished I had access to 15 years ago. I got into fly fishing because of my struggles with mental illness; it provided access to nature and a healthy outlet where I could be present, mindful, and find relief from everyday stressors.
I was always an anxious individual and took a semester leave of absence in college to deal with my own anxiety. It was then that I realized the healing power of therapy. I first discovered fly fishing during law school and have been fishing as much as I can for over 6 years now. As a member of the Board of Directors, I am responsible for the long-term strategic direction of the organization and lend a hand with any legal questions as well.
I suffer from depression and generalized anxiety disorder. Fly fishing has given me mindfulness, community, and increased spirituality. I started fly fishing and tying 7 years ago. I’ll fish for anything that will eat a fly. I believe a community of men supporting each other can help decrease stigma and increase healing. Originally from Michigan, I have lived in Denver for the past 7 years. For Fishing The Good Fight, I serve as a board member and instructor.
I think Henry David Thoreau got it exactly right when he said, “Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing it isn’t fish they are after.” I’ve been a fisherman my entire life, but I’ve recently found that the size or number of fish I catch has become far less important to me than the space that fly fishing creates for me to heal and temporarily unplug from the hectic pace of life and its challenges. I’m honored to be part of an organization that recognizes the therapeutic power of fly fishing and hope that, by exposing more men to the healing power of fly fishing, we can promote an alternative mental health resource to help men address mental illness.
We believe that those experiencing mental health challenges have the greatest chance of success when they have access to what they need most. That’s where FTGF comes in.
Access to professional help
Regular exposure to nature
We believe that it’s important for those experiencing mental health challenges to be able to access help from a professional licensed therapist. The foundation of all of our retreats is built on talk therapy or group therapy lead by professionals- it’s what makes us so different from everyone else.
We’ve all seen the research- spending time in nature and cultivating hobbies that facilitate a relationship with the natural world has long lasting positive effects on mental health.
So much of the heart of FTGF comes from our desire to build a supportive community where mental health isn’t a taboo. Whether it’s at a retreat or online in our resource center, we’re here to create an open community where you feel supported and understood.
Therapy and mental health services can be expensive. FTGF is working tirelessly to make sure that it’s affordable for those who need it by offering scholarships and subsidies.
Our core Values
We know how it felt that first time we hooked into a brown on a warm summer’s day, nothing can beat that feeling. But we also know what it feels like to navigate a confusing and difficult mental health system. We’ve navigated the rocky waters so that we can help you. If you join us on a retreat, you’ll get lots of time in nature on the water, meeting new, like-minded people, and talking with licensed professionals about the difficulties men face when it comes to the conventions of modern masculinity. By attending one of our retreats, you’ll learn fly fishing techniques, work with top-of-their-field mental health professionals, and fish some of the most gorgeous waters in the West. And you’ll meet lifelong friends in the process.
"Being out here in this incredible part of Colorado… Listening to the water flowing, the wind breezing and the sun shining down on our face. There’s just something about it that naturally makes us feel safe. There’s something about being here in nature that provides an incredible catharsis, especially for us used to the everyday hustle and bustle of life living in an urban area. This little hiatus from everyday life. Sometimes we surprise ourselves with some of the things that have been locked up for a while. And when you have a chance to look eye to eye with another man out here on the water and he looks back and says, “I’m right there with you”... there’s something really powerful about that."
The shock of river water when you first step into wet wade on a hot August day, setting your hook into a gorgeous rainbow in a gorgeous place, all alongside people who are supportive and knowledgeable- that’s the good stuff. FTGF is here to build a community of individuals who love to be outside with a rod in hand and who want to break down the taboos men face in the mental health world. In The Eddy, we’ve compiled all sorts of resources for anglers and those navigating the mental health world. Oh, and did we mention, it’s completely free.
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