September 2017

12/18/2017 14:59


Passion and Purpose

 By Laura Nissen, Luther Manor Communities

(Caption if needed:  Dave Kemp and his beloved dog, Allie fully enjoying nature.)


It all started when he was a young boy growing up in North Dakota.  Dave Kemp loved spending time with his grandfather fishing in the rivers of the northern plains.  They spent hours together using traditional bait casting equipment.  The rivers were just as magical as the time he spent with his grandfather.  Little did he know those days would seed a passion that would bloom into a lifelong love relationship with fly fishing and everything about midwestern spring creeks & rivers.


(Caption if needed:  Dave Kemp fly fishing in Utah.)



Dave tells me that streams & rivers are similar to life, always on the move & changing, full of all kinds of interdependent life, all about relationships.  ”You never step into the same stream twice.”  When Dave moved to Dubuque and discovered our cold spring creeks, he learned that they were something extremely special.  He told me that only 1-2% of our planet’s fresh water are these glorious cold water streams.  It was in the tri-state area that he fell in love with everything about fly fishing.  When he had time away from his pediatric practice he found solace in these places.  In the winter he learned to tie his own flies.  He told me that the challenge of imitating natural “fish food” was fascinating and rewarding when he caught fish using his homemade flies.  He started building graphite flyrods from parts made commercially.  Then he started making bamboo fly rods because he could customize each rod to his liking and to what most suited the streams he fished.  Each rod requires 60-80 hours of work and so there is a ‘piece’ of the maker in each one. The rods are made from bamboo grown in a small forested area in China were the bamboo needs to sustain strong winds.  This allows the rods to be as strong and flexible as they are beautiful and poetic.  Dave made his first rod in 2008 and has since then has completed about 40 rods sharing his passion with so many.  Dave tells me that making something with his hands is good for him at so many levels.  He explains the whole experience can bring out the child in you as you continue to learn and make little discoveries, sometimes serendipitous!   Each handmade rod is lovingly inscribed “G. P. Lawrence” to honor  Dave’s grandfather. 


(Caption if needed:  Form and function…a beautiful, finished piece of art!)


When asked about the benefits of his sport, he tells me that the preparation of making his own flies and building his own rods is certainly enjoyable.  However, it is the moment standing in the stream that is the pinnacle of all the preparation.  Dave said that it is hard to put it into words but that he feels completely at home in that moment in that place.  All concerns of the future or thoughts of the past fall away while he stands in the cool, crisp water with his beloved dog, Allie at his side.   Dave chuckles, and tells me that in that moment he feels that he and his Grandpa Lawrence are still fishing together!

Dave Kemp will be leading a “Thrive” Workshop on his passion of Fly Fishing in November @ our Clubhouse.  In the Spring of 2018, he will also be holding a casting clinic at our Pond.  If you are interested in learning more about fly fishing, please call Laura @ 563-557-7662 to RSVP for these upcoming events.