Ricky Davidson remembers where it all started.
The Issaquah native was only four years old when he began going into the backyard with his father, taking his firsts casts with a fishing pole trying to hit dinner plates stationed around the yard as targets.
While the practice lacked the obvious payoff of actual fishing, Davidson said it planted a seed that continues to sprout more than a decade later.
“It became apparent really quickly,” Davidson said. “It was something I would be addicted to my whole life.”
Addiction is the only appropriate analogy for the intense connection and nostalgia Davidson feels when he picks up a fly rod, which has become his tool of choice over the years.
After developing his own angling abilities, he began taking friends on trips as a teenager. Eventually, the idea of becoming a fishing guide seemed the most logical outlet, and Davidson booked his first guided trip through Creekside Angling Company in Issaquah at only 16 years old.
“He’s been coming in here literally since he was born,” owner Peter Corbett recalled. “The fact we are local grown is everything for me.”
Davidson, who attended Eastside Catholic School, took a father and son duo on the Yakima River on his first trip as a guide, somehow masking his nerves and maneuvering his newly purchased drift boat to fertile fishing ground.
“I remember it so clearly,” he said. “I immediately realized it was something I loved to do.”
While Davidson looks back on that first trip with equal parts fondness and dread, for his lack of inexperience, the most acute memory is of the father and son finding the same enjoyment and bond he enjoys.
“Fishing moments can change your life,” Davidson said. “There is nothing better than sharing those experiences with people.”
Davidson continues sharing his experience as a guide, and also works in the same Creekside Angling fly shop he began coming to as a toddler on his father’s shoulders.
Along with his knowledge of Pacific Northwest waterways and fishing runs, Davidson is perhaps best known in fishing circles for his status as one of the top young Spey casters anywhere.
“He’s a knowledgeable kid,” Corbett said. “For 20 years old, it is unique.”
When he isn’t guiding fishing trips on rivers around Washington, or working at Creekside Angling, Davidson is continuing his education at Bellevue College with the hope of eventually earning a degree in business or going into his father’s profession of real estate.
But no matter where his career takes him, his fly rod and the Northwest’s most scenic locales will never be far away.
“I will always, somehow, some way, have a relationship with the fly fishing industry,” said Davidson, who has previously taken fishing trips in the Bahamas and is planning a journey to Russia in the coming years. “I can’t leave it.”