At FTGF we believe that experiences in nature are an important part of caring for one’s mental health. Less than 20% of men struggling with mental illness and/or substance abuse are receiving professional support. The combination of a healthy, therapeutic outlet, talk therapy, and a strong community will lead to mental well-being.
A Letter from the Founder:
Over 15 years ago, I began struggling with anxiety and depression. Like most men, I wasn't aware that my symptoms were treatable. I brushed these symptoms off the same way I brushed off injuries in sports, thinking that it would improve in time. The 10+ years between the onset of symptoms and my first therapy session were a very dark period in my life. I wished I had access to a community where talking about mental illness was not taboo, and was instead encouraged.
This is why I began Fishing the Good Fight in 2019. Initially, we didn't know exactly what we wanted to do or how best to help; but we knew we needed to do something. It started out with donations to men's mental health organizations and has since evolved to weekend wellness retreats and subsidized mental health services.
I knew we were onto something on our first retreat in Lake George. I watched five total strangers open up, get vulnerable, support each other, and catch a few fish in the process. Those five individuals still stay in touch, have tough conversations, fish, and continue their wellness journey together.
If you've ever wondered about your own mental health and wanted to improve your quality of life, our organization can provide the tools, resources, and support to guide you along your wellness journey.
Jennings Hester, Founder
Our core values
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
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.
Regular exposure to nature
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.
“Being able to attend the Fishing the Good Fight retreat was a breath of fresh air for me. The retreat wasn’t just a reset for me, but a reenergizing launching point to connect with other men and nature. Spending time along Tarryall Creek allowed me to notice parts of my inner self that needed to be mended. This time allowed me to work on mending those vulnerable areas alongside new friends and with a professional counselor.”
Our expert 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.
Neeraj "Raj" Sathe
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 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 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.
As men, we’re taught from an early age that “boys don’t cry.” Whether it’s a scraped knee or even the death of a loved one, we are instilled with the notion that to express our feelings is a sign of weakness. Though this stereotype has been slowly breaking down over time, it’s still prevalent in our society.