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WNC Business

How Fly Fishing Rearranged Life’s Priorities

Jan 10, 2023 09:05AM ● By Diane Leubbers

Real estate agents are notorious for living in a constant flurry of activity. We have an endless list of tasks to complete – everything from listing consultations, staging those new listings, arranging and managing photography and drone sessions, managing transactions, showing homes to buyer clients, putting in offers, and attending inspections. There is also the process of following up with current and former clients, marketing, networking, learning and effectively using multiple software programs and social media platforms. In order to manage the stress of such a fast paced life, it is necessary to find a way to unplug, relax, and recharge.

My husband Jim and I are a real estate duo. This set-up does four very important things for us as agents. First, it allows us to divide up our many responsibilities according to our strengths, talents and interests. Second, it allows us to be very involved with each and every transaction, eliminating the need for transaction managers, assistants, or multiple team members. Third, it allows us to tailor our services to meet the unique needs of each client and thus enables us to go above and beyond and provide concierge-level service for each and every client. What we’ve found is that not only do we end up with happy clients and a job well done, we are also turning clients into lifelong friends and our biggest cheerleaders, often resulting in referral business from their family, friends and neighbors.

Which leads me to the fourth reason I enjoy working as a husband and wife agent team – down time. With two of us minding the store, so to speak, we can take turns taking time off to relax, de-stress, and get away from all the devices. My husband loves to play golf, go camping, drink craft beer with friends at local breweries and watch sports. 

Personally, I like to get out on a river and chase trout. Whenever I need to get away from the hustle and bustle, I go fly fishing. It’s solace, relaxation, healing, and it’s recharging my body and soul. I find that when I get outside and into nature surrounded by the trees and the mountains with a babbling river at my feet, I feel the physiological effects that it has on my body. There’s a name for it. It’s called the Biophilia Effect, as described in a book of the same name by Clemens G. Arvay.

Fly fishing is my favorite way to get my biophilia fix. Since moving to Hendersonville from Bozeman, Montana I have found fly fishing companions as well as mentors at the Pisgah Chapter of Trout Unlimited. Currently, I serve on the board as the Membership Chair, making sure new members are welcomed into the group, helping them to understand the resources available, and setting them up with the right contact for volunteering or mentoring on the water. I’ve found that the more I do to support and help with our chapter and its members, the more I end up in my happy place – standing in a river feeling the pull of the earth flowing around me.

I’ve also created a group of fly fisherwomen that go out together to fish in the Davidson and Mills Rivers. Having these outings on my calendar forces me to take the time to get out there in the river. It also encourages me to learn more about the sport so that I can help these women feel successful in their experience. It feels motivating to help others while I am learning to be more skilled at the sport myself. The group outings give me more time outdoors, and I enjoy the friendships and community that the group creates.Unlike a typical fly fisher, for me it’s not about the fish. It’s simply being out there that’s important. I’ve learned enough about the sport to feel competent and enjoy a level of success so that I can relax and just enjoy the experience. Honestly, I even prefer for a fish to jump off of a hook. I still feel the joy of a 'win' without potentially stressing out or injuring the fish.

What started as a hobby has grown into my passion. Not only have I formed many friendships while getting outside to relax, sharpen my mind, and learn more about the rhythms of life and nature, a desire has also been sparked inside me to help ensure that these natural places stay the way that they are.

I originally came to Trout Unlimited for the fish, but I have stayed for the conservation. There is a speaker at each meeting, and I was particularly struck by the talk that Maria Wise of the Mills River Partnership gave. She discussed how streams on private properties have an effect on the rivers downstream. When property owners cut down all of the trees for vista pruning, more sediment washes downstream. When farmers straighten streams, heavy rains rush even faster through these sections causing even more mud to rush into the river because the creeks and streams need to meander in order to slow the flow and catch sediment. The clearing and rerouting damages the environment and consequently the fish and invertebrates that live there. 

Now that I know, I can educate my real estate clients on the importance and responsibility of proper maintenance of river, creek, and stream banks. If there is no proper maintenance, their land can literally wash away. It’s beneficial for owners to take care of it.

It is also fulfilling for me to participate in group restoration projects. Our Trout Unlimited chapter partners with other conservation organizations to provide many ways to be a vital part of conservation projects, with planned work days doing everything from fence-building to trash pickup to live-staking with saplings to help stabilize river and stream banks.

 A funny thing happened on the way to rest and relaxation – I went to the woods and found the world. What started as a relaxing pastime has turned into a change of heart and a change of habits as well. I am trying with one habit and one purchase at a time to be a good steward of this earth I live on. With each person I share my love of fly fishing with, I try to impart the importance of conserving our rivers and our world for future generations.

Fly fishing is not the only way that I endeavor to rest, relax, and recharge. I also paint, create yard art, and love to type on my old 1964 Corona typewriter. To make time for these, I have had to let go of perfection in housekeeping and other domestic pursuits. I also try to work as intuitively as possible, maintaining a focus on priorities to be efficient with my time spent.

In the past, I declined to participate in many outside activities citing how much work I had piled up, how many hours of sitting in front of the computer I had yet to do, or how many calls I should be making. I realized that I was so busy working that I never had time for the life I’d moved here to Western North Carolina to live. I have since learned how to better arrange my schedule, and with the help of my wonderfully supportive husband, get outside on a river away from calls and texts, emails, and social media. I still take my cell phone with me to take pictures, but since there’s no cell signal out where I am, there’s no temptation to let it ruin that all too precious self-care time which is so vital in recharging and refreshing my body and soul. When I feel refreshed, I become more effective and productive in my work and life.

I like what Mark Twain said: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines! Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover!”

Or call me and let’s go fishing!

Diane Luebbers is a real estate broker at BluAxis Realty. She and her husband Jim work as a team serving Western North Carolina.  Learn more at or reach out to [email protected].