Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Sophisticated Angler

  Fly fishing is generally considered the upper crust of fishing.  The anglers that fly fish often see themselves as a high minded, idealistic, and sophisticated lot - well above the lowly bait casters and spin fisherman of the world.  I often catch myself in this mind set and have to force myself to come down off my high mountain and remember that I was once a die hard bait caster who loved an afternoon fishing with a rusty push button spinning rod and a can of worms.
   The truth is whether you bait cast, fly fish, or are one of those crazy noodlers crazy enough to fish around a catfish hole with only your big toe, we all love to fish because its fun.  There is nothing high minded about it and there is nothing sophisticated about what we do on the river.  Fly anglers especially, armed with an over priced rod and more equipment than a Bedouin camel herder, have even less of a reason to think what we do is somehow better than the rest of the fishing community.
  We fly anglers buy endless amounts of equipment, collectively spend countless millions a year on travel and chicken feathers to chase a fish with a brain the size of a small sunflower seed. If spending money on fishing is a sign of sophistication then I might concede the fact that we fly anglers are the upper crust.
   The truth is we fly fish not because we think we are better than the guy with the spin rod or the kid with the can of worms, we fly fish because for us it is just as much about the art fishing as it is about hooking the fish.  For us that have been lucky enough to hook into a big fish on a fly rod it is an experience that sticks with us.  That pull on the line your holding and the knowledge that the fish leaping away from your net was hooked on a fly you had a hand in creating is a total experience that we just cant get from digging up worms and hooking it them on an Eagle Claw hook.  Its not anymore sophisticated it all has a different meaning.
   That all may sound like a rambling preachy post but sometimes we all need to be reminded that regardless of our selected style of fishing, we all are in search of a fish that continually outsmart us fly anglers and bait-casters alike.
  This past Monday I was able to break away for a few hours to a local stream frequently visited by bait-casters.  It was rather cold but as the sun began to warm things up I was hopeful for a increase in activity.  Unfortunately my only success was a foul hooked stocked brown which quickly found its way back into the hole he was hiding. (as a side note - For some reason the fact that it was foul hooked made me feel guilty that I had even caught it, though I had no idea where I had hooked it until it was brought in.  Why this should detract from my success is something only dedicated anglers might understand)

 Anyway, Continuing on -  This stream is usually jam packed on the weekend with spin fisherman who leave with a limit of freshly stocked trout on a stringer.  Since this is well known as a 'put and take' stream I have accepted the fact that not all fisherman fish for the experience.  It is a fact of life and as long as they stay on those put and take streams instead of cleaning out natural brookie waters further up stream then I have learned to live with it.  Heck, even I have on occasion have taken a stocked trout or two for my dinner.  What I have little tolerance for is the fisherman - regardless of style - that use the stream side as their own private trash bin.  Unfortunately these people are often bait-casters because as we all have seen, one of the top pieces of trash around the stream is the discarded bait container or beer can.
  As a community of fisherman, regardless of style, we should call these people out.  They not only give anglers that do not fly fish a bad name, but they do unbelievable harm to a place we all enjoy.  This all may seem like a preachy post but the rusty cans and Styrofoam containers I picked up from the banks the other day really ticked me off, especially the jagged rutty bait can I nearly sat on as I was working to tie on another fly.
  Its common sense and its really simple people - just pick up your crap before you head back home to clean your catch.  That all I ask.


Atlas said...

I for one still engage in both conventional and fly. Its hard to chase Walleye 50 ft deep on a fly rod and I love the finesse of plastic worms on Largemouths. I agree the sport of fly fishing often thinks itself better and on most days I would rather take any fish on a fly than anything else but I agree with you that we ought not to think ourselves the upper crust. As someone who does both I have been the target of this criticism. At the end of the day its about being in nature, the process and form of the sport, the fish, and finding solace within ones self. Great post and much needed--and yes we need to approach those who leave trash!

Mel said...

Amen, Joel! No problem with the preachin' if the preachin' has a great message. In this case, well said. Over the years, I have tossed the worm, spun the spinner, and flew the fly. My preference is fly fishing because I get the most satisfaction out of it and feel more in touch with the activity at hand because I tied the fly etc. etc. Picking up trash is a sad part of every fishing trip it seems, but, always necessary. Thanks for doing your part to enhance the quality of the area you fish.

Bill Trussell said...

I have no patience with individuals who leave their trash on the water’s edge. We have a signs posted on our local tailrace that states if anyone is seen leaving trash near the waters edge they are subject to a stiff fine. In fact I have reported individuals who I have seen leaving trash. One can merely call our local Game Warden and they are usually there before the individuals leave the water.
As for the fly fishing verses bait casting, I have long given up on bait casting sometime ago. I used the fly rod when I was younger and got away from it as I moved into the bass tournament thing over the years. After I got older I came back to the fly rod and that is where I will spend the rest of my fishing days. I simply love to fight a fish with an inferior fly fishing combo verses a 7 ft. heavy action bait casting rod, where one can usually land the fish in a matter of seconds. In other words I like the finesse factor that fly fishing can give me. Thanks for sharing a great post.

cofisher said...

Although I haven't dunked a worm for years, I've still got the tackle for it. I figure one of these days I won't be able to gracefully toss a fly any more.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the comments guys. The trash really ticked me off. Sorry for the rant but sometimes you just have say it. No matter what style of fishing you do - try and pick up after yourself