Most of us stricken with the fishing addiction dream about days when fish come to hand on nearly every cast. Heck, if we have 15 minutes out of a full day on the water when everything clicks – the fly, the weather, the location, and the fish – we count is a roaring success.
But what if every time we went a-stream, nearly every cast was rewarded with a fish? It might be fun for a while, but I submit that eventually even the worst fish hogs among us would become bored.
I have been on the other side of that table as well. When I first began to fish my home river for trout, I read, and studied, and prepared the best gear I could afford. But five trips later, I never even detected a strike. After that fifth trip, as much as I love the outdoors, it was hard to say that I was happy just to be on the water, and that the catching didn’t matter – it did. Had I endured many more of those trips without a catch, Craig’s List would have been littered with my castaway gear.
Catching them all isn’t really what we are after. Catching none is clearly not our aim either. Somewhere between these extremes is the sweet spot. The sweet spot for me changes as time goes on. Initially it was just to catch a single trout. Then four or five. Then repeat with a fly I had tied myself.
On days when catching seemed easy, I try a fly other than the “hot” fly to see if I could score with something new. If catching was good in one area, I would move to another to see if I could crack the code there as well. Standing in one spot and catching fish after fish stacked in a hole has never appealed to me. There is too much river to see.
We tend to value those things that are rare. So it is in fishing. As some point in my fly fishing evolution, I became infatuated with native species; those special fish uniquely created for the environments they inhabit. They are not as easy to find as the more ubiquitous stocked varieties, especially in waters where stocking of non-natives has diluted the genetics of the indigenous species. Sometimes it takes days of effort to travel to remote locations where they still thrive.
The native species game is not one of size or numbers, but of value. A recognition and celebration of things as they used to be; as they should be; and hopefully as they will be. I for one am happy to trade quantity for quality.