As a child, Marna Cooper did a little fishing off the hull of the Cement Ship in Santa Cruz. As a result, her picture landed on the front page of the newspaper. After what she calls a long hiatus, she's fishing again, this time in the rivers around Merced.
Cooper is the budget director at UC Merced, but still manages to find time for fly-fishing, a pursuit she's undertaken for the last 3 years in the many rivers around the area, with the companionship and guidance of her partner.
This area is close to the Stanislaus and Tuolumne rivers, Yosemite National Park, and lots of high-country fishing, Cooper says. The Merced Fly Club also has some access to very good bass ponds close to town.
Coming to Merced, she says, has allowed her to fish more often and in more different places.
Work in finance at UC Merced has busy and quiet seasons, so there are some times when Cooper is able to go out fishing more often than others. Still, she says she manages to get out on the water once or twice a month on average. And it's important for her mental health.
Fishing is very much like meditation, Cooper says. It's an important way for me to decompress. I also get spiritually rejuvenated when I'm outdoors all day, and fishing affords me that opportunity. It's an opportunity to leave work behind and concentrate on something simpler.
It hasn't been all bliss, though. Cooper cites her best accomplishment as learning to cast without wrapping the line around her head and without swearing. Many other fly-fishing aficionados would surely agree. The concentration and patience required can be daunting.
Still, Cooper's lifelong love of the outdoors keeps her going. I've learned a lot about rivers and ecological systems through fishing that I never would have appreciated otherwise, she says. That kind of learning fits right in at UC Merced.