I cannot tell you how many times I’ve questioned my sanity on the side of a riverbank or in a seat on my boat. Those days when I’m exhausted and freezing with nothing to show for it except some cold fingers and an awful sunglasses tan. I sit there and just ponder why do I do this? Time is precious and you only have a limited amount so why do I spend so much time subjecting myself to the elements and getting beat up by a fish? I mean I could be sitting home watching the latest Netflix series, hanging out with some friends, or whatever people that don’t fly fish do but what fun is that? I’ve learned that if you want to catch fish and especially big fish that you just simply have to put your time in and there’s no other way around it. A lot of times this means fishing in less than ideal conditions and not tagging the fish you were hoping for. If you’re a fair weather fisherman at times you can get lucky and find what you’re looking for, but the more time you put in the better your chances are going to be of finding that fish of your dreams. You cannot catch fish on your couch so the more time on the water the better your chances are it’s as simple as that. If you want to catch a 30” brown trout or a 45” muskie you best be ready to commit some time to those goals and be ready for when you don’t accomplish them as soon as you want. The thing is though when you do finally land that fish you’re searching for its one of the greatest feelings ever as a fisherman. That fish is there in your hands and the smile on your face is priceless. You know the time you put in, the conditions you fished, the pain you went through to just simply catch a fish and no one can ever take that from you. You did it with your own two hands.
It’s no always just about chasing big fish though. I used to think that’s all that mattered was catching the biggest one which made me stray from why I actually did it for a while. I put myself through fishing purgatory simply because I love it more than anything. I love the dedication it takes to fish in below freezing temperatures and not feel my fingers and toes after a few hours. To me it’s almost fun. Maybe that’s why everyone calls us crazy when we’re out there, but that’s fine with because I’d much rather be crazy then normal. The places fishing takes you is another reason I love it so much. I’ve seen so many incredible things on the water that you’d need see anywhere else. Eagles catching fish, bears crossing rivers, and sharks on a feeding frenzy to name a few. Each place you fish is different than the next and each one has a certain aura about it. The coastal rivers of Oregon are just as beautiful as the sandy beaches of Southern Florida, but both of them are so dramatically different. If I didn’t fly fish I wouldn’t have seen half the places I’ve already been lucky enough to explore. There’s a certain point you get to after catching so many fish that you start to learn it’s truly not about catching fish anymore. The fish is just the added bonus. It’s about the places you go, the people you meet, and the memories you get to hold onto forever. The next time you’re stop and sit down for ten minutes and just observe what goes on around you and be thankful you get to experience that because there are a lot of people who don’t.
Another driver behind me to fish so much is because its just in my blood. My father is a die-hard fisherman and that just happened to rub off on me. I’ve been fishing with him since I was 3 years old and I’ve just loved it ever since. It’s great to be able to share a passion like that with someone so close to you. We’ve had some great times on the water and throughout the course of all the time we’ve spent together on the water it just took a hold on me. It’s almost as if being on the water just feels like home. It gives me a sense of belonging. I don’t belong in a club or a coffee shop in the city I belong on the water throwing around some meat for the next hungry fish. When something is in your blood in my opinion it just separates you a bit from the next guy. I’m not saying that if you’re not born into that you don’t have the same passion or love for it, but to me it just comes almost natural almost like it’s meant to be. I see how proud it makes my father to be successful at fishing and to take it to a level above where he was at. I was his apprentice for so long and he was the master and now the tides have turned. He loves fishing like I do and to share something like this with him is one of the greatest gifts we can share. For the love of the game.
You don’t know until you try. What a great saying when it comes to fishing. The weather sucks, you’re tired, but you’ve got that little demon in the back of your head telling you to go fishing. Why? Because you never know what’s going to happen and that’s one of my favorite things about fishing. You just simply never know what is going to happen. Yeah conditions are unfavorable and no one has been catching fish lately, but today could be the day that all changes and you can’t find that out sitting at home. The anticipation of what can happen every cast is almost terrifying. Is this the cast that I finally stick that Tarpon I’ve been dreaming about? Maybe the next swing through this run is the one where 15lbs of angry chrome decides it’s going to tee off on my fly and going blasting through the pool. It’s all one big mystery and you’re giving it your best Scooby-Doo impression trying to solve it. The unknown is one of the coolest things about fishing if you ask me. People get bored easily especially when things become mundane. You know exactly what you’re going to do when you go to work or when you sit in traffic on the way home. There’s almost zero unknown and that makes it boring. Fishing however is rarely like that. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve fished perfect conditions and gotten skunked. Why is that? The water temperature was right, the flow was ideal, and the fish had been red hot lately yet I failed to tag a fish. What is me? My presentation? Color? You really can’t answer it, but that’s what keeps you coming back too. The got the best of me that round, but I will get them the next. You’re just trying to find the next piece of the puzzle so you can put it all together. The more pieces you can acquire the bigger puzzle you can build and the better fisherman you can become.
Try to remember not to get caught up in extra stuff about fly fishing. The photo shoots that occur when the fish is out of the water, the brand of your hat, or the other stuff that goes on nowadays. Don’t forget about why you’re there and what you brought you there. The time you’ve put in to get there and the place you’re in at the moment. Live in that moment and enjoy it as best you can because you may never get that opportunity again. I’ve learned a million life lessons on the water that i can translate to everyday life and that seems to be the ultimate beauty of fishing. Yeah big fish are nice and grand, but what fishing has taught me about life is the ultimate catch. Things don’t always go your way and you need to figure out how to solve the problem at hand. This occurs while fishing. You’re getting antsy and need to relax and just breathe. Patience from fishing has taught me how to do that. You want to accomplish goals that take time and effort. Fishing has taught me how to do that. There’s a million other examples, but i’m sure you get the picture at this point. Do what you love and love what you do. Fishing is something I’m so incredibly thankful for because it’s made me who I am today. I don’t think a lot of people today have something in their life that they’re so passionate about like I am about fishing and I feel bad for them. When you love something this much no matter what else goes on in life you know you can count on it to be there for you when others aren’t. That’s why I stick myself in awful conditions and put myself through the ringer. It’s always been there for me and I can always rely on it to make me happy even when I’m sitting riverside freezing to death. That’s why I do it.