Fly fishing teaches life, business skills on and off the water

Wading waist high into the flats of Belize to fly fish may not sound like a metaphor for business but for Scott Muelrath it’s exactly the right environment.Henderson Chamber’s Scott Muelrath credits sport with career, personal traits

HENDERSON, Nev. – Wading waist high into the flats of Belize to fly fish may not sound like a metaphor for business, but for Scott Muelrath, president and CEO of the Henderson Chamber of Commerce, it’s exactly the right environment.

Since he learned to fly fish at age 11, many of the skills he’s learned on the water have carried over to his personal and business life. Unlike regular fishing, fly fishing is more strategy than waiting. To catch a fish, attention to detail must be paid to the environment, the type of fish, the lure specific to that species, the water source and the method of casting the line to mimic that of a baitfish or a bug prancing on the water. Where many people can fish, not many can fly fish successfully.

And where many people can start and even run a business, they aren’t all successful business people. Muelrath’s job is to advise business owners and help them grow their businesses by providing resources, introductions, education and opportunities. He does this with the patience, strategy, critical thinking, problem solving and research skills he honed as a fly fisherman.

“The slightest variation and you don’t catch anything … in fly fishing and in business,” Muelrath said. “The sport played into some of my personal characteristics like patience. That can carry over to your personal life and, in turn, your business life. You have to commit yourself to get results. I became more determined to become adept at fly fishing, and with that came more frequent success. The two share a lot of characteristics.”

And Muelrath doesn’t even eat fish. Upon catching them, he throws them back. The satisfaction and success comes from fooling the fish, not eating them, he said.

“There’s recognition the fish are a resource,” Muelrath said. “Some are meant to be caught or kept, but if they’re wild and belong to that environment, many fishermen let them go.”

Growing up in Napa, Calif., Muelrath was never far from scenic vistas, but he’s traveled to Belize, Newfoundland, New Zealand and Mexico for the perfect spot to fish. He and his father, Don Muelrath, even wrote a book – “The Hunt, Fly Fishing’s Greatest Adventures” – which he wrote, his sister designed and his father illustrated with photos.

Muelrath hopes the skills and life lessons he learned on the water are also picked up by his son, Nicholas, who at age 10 is learning how to fly fish with his father and grandfather.

Learning to run a business is much like learning to fly fish – an owner has to get in and learn every aspect of the business, be open to constructive criticism and ideas, and accept help when needed.

“You really have to learn from the environment. You really do,” he said. “You have to get in there and figure it out.”

The Henderson Chamber of Commerce is a nonprofit, voluntary organization committed to promoting and supporting member businesses and economic development.

For more information, call the Henderson Chamber of Commerce at 702-565-8951 or visit www.hendersonchamber.com.