Christopher Johnson fell in love with fly fishing as a boy. Now, he’s winning awards as he passes on that passion.
Holding the old fly fishing book in his hand, Christopher Johnson ran a finger over the date stamps that indicated each time the item had been checked out from the Round Rock Public Library. “Those are my date stamps,” he realized. He had checked out the same books and magazines over and over while learning to fly fish when he was in elementary school. Little did Christopher know that, when he grew up, he would own a fly fishing business, Living Waters Fly Fishing, and would get to pass on the knowledge that he’d taught himself.
Christopher’s passion for fishing began early in his childhood when, homework complete, he would often ride his bike down to local creeks and ponds to fish. “I played basketball one year. We were undefeated and did really well, but I didn’t enjoy it,” he recalls. “The whole time I was in practice, I was thinking about fishing.”
Growing up, Christopher had the opportunity to visit fly fishing destinations far beyond local fishing holes on Brushy Creek and the San Gabriel River. His father, a full-time missionary, frequently took him on short-term mission trips to countries such as Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, and the Cayman Islands. Christopher always packed a fly rod and caught some of the most prestigious game fish in the Caribbean. An experienced fly angler can spend years fishing before catching a permit (a type of game fish), but in Honduras Christopher caught the first permit he ever cast a fly to.
As a teenager, he started his own guiding business. He also worked at a large outdoor retailer that carried a selection of fly fishing equipment, but only some products met local demand. The store commissioned Christopher to remodel its fly fishing selection, but when store management took his plan to the corporate buyers, they turned it down.
“I was really looking for direction at the time,” he says. “I had been in college for a year, and there was nothing I wanted to major in. I prayed about what I should do next, and I heard the Lord say to open a fly shop in Round Rock.”
Living Waters Fly Fishing—filled with furs, beads, plastic eyes, bright synthetic threads, and hooks for making custom flies, as well as waders, boots, rods, and reels—is a full service stop for local fly fishers and a base for Christopher’s guiding business. But it also has a mission: “To educate and equip future fly fisherman so that they carry on the legacy of the sport of fly fishing by passing it on to others.”
“Fly fishing is a tight community with good values,” Christopher says. “It’s very conservation driven, stewardship driven, and mindful about giving back to the next generation by passing knowledge on.” That includes practicing catch-and-release to ensure fish for future generations of anglers. Christopher and Living Waters Fly Shop employees participate in a Brushy Creek cleanup and, he says, they do “a lot of work with the local fly clubs, just donating materials, donating our time and talents.”
Recently, Christopher won the International Federation of Fly Fishers Lee Wulff Award. When he got the call saying he’d been announced the winner (he missed the ceremony because he was fishing for salmon in Alaska), he realized the caliber of the award, which recognizes an international fly fishing business of the year, chosen from manufacturers, retailers, and shops, for “outstanding innovation and stewardship.”
The boy who once cast about for information in books is now casting a legacy, through his passion and his shop, that will guide others to discover fly fishing and act as good stewards of river corridors.
Find out more about Christopher’s shop and the free classes at livingwatersflyfishing.com.