Employee Story: From Paris to a Maine Trout Stream


In our series “Landmark Moments,” people share their formative experiences about becoming outsiders.

L.L.Bean Employee Julie M. shares her story of learning how to fly fish with Sue D., one of our Outdoor Discovery Program guides.

As I stood in the middle of a trout stream, I could feel the frigid water rushing around my legs. The rocks under my feet were slippery. Even though I’d been there for hours, casting a fly rod into the current over and over again, I didn’t even get one bite. And yet, it was amazing, and I can’t wait to do it again.

I left NYC to come to Maine when I was hired by L.L.Bean. This surprised my close friends because they thought I would never leave the big city. Living and raising my children here has meant embracing the changing seasons and nature like I never have before. Also, working for a company like L.L.Bean, whose mission and purpose is all about the outdoors, has changed me in ways I never could have expected.

“I grew up in Paris where we were city people and did not do much outdoors.”

I grew up in Paris where we were city people and did not do much outdoors besides sunbathing in the summertime. We learned how to ski, golf and play tennis because it was the fashionable thing to do, not because of a love of the outdoors. I remember going on a hike in the Alps on my 8th birthday and absolutely hating it. But coming to Maine changed all that. Suddenly, everything was about the outdoors.

When the opportunity came up to learn fly fishing with an L.L.Bean expert, I immediately volunteered. I’ve been curious about fly fishing and always found it beautiful to watch. The movements are dance-like, and I was very attracted to having a brand-new experience in the water. I also felt so privileged to have a personal lesson with an expert – what better way to learn?

For years I associated fly fishing with A River Runs Through It. I believed that fishing is for men and boys. Many of my male friends have started fishing again over the last few years, but again, it always felt so distant to me. But when this opportunity came up, I thought, “why not me?”

I was aware that fly fishing can be difficult to learn, so I was comfortable with the fact that I would most likely struggle – I was more self-conscious about how I would look in waders! But that uneasiness faded away as I felt my body become comfortable with the river and I realized, “I can do this!”. My instructor Sue and I hit it off from the first moment. She was so kind, funny and welcoming. She had the biggest smile on her face; I could tell she was as excited as I was.

“When the opportunity came up to learn fly fishing with an L.L.Bean expert, I immediately volunteered!”

The lesson was fantastic. First, Sue showed me the basics of the fly cast and then we hit the water in search of trout. Having Sue there made me feel safe and comfortable, like there was an old friend watching over me. We tried hard to find fish and had lots of laughs doing it. I learned how to cast a fly rod, discover where trout might live in a stream and saw the kind of flies you use to catch them.

I might not be a great fly fisher (yet!), but I can appreciate the beauty and challenge of the sport. Sue was the first one to say that I would most likely not catch anything. She was right! But I also know that if I spent another few afternoons learning from Sue, I’ll be able to catch a fish. Will I try fly fishing again? Absolutely!

I loved every minute of that afternoon. The weather was beautiful. The current was gentle. And my guide felt more like a friend. I’d recommend this experience to any woman – to any human being – who feels like the outdoors isn’t for them.

Just standing there on the water, listening to the river flow and breathing the fresh Maine air, made me feel something I’d never quite experienced in nature before. Like I belonged.

“Will I try fly fishing again? Absolutely!”

Julie M. head shot.

Julie M. is a Director of Creative Art & Design and has been with L.L.Bean since 2015. She is mother of two young girls and lives in Portland, Maine.