Monday, October 16, 2006

Striking Out - No Joy In Muddville Tonight

At one time or another, every fly fisher has had the experience of coming away empty handed from a hard day of fishing. This experience often comes with feelings that can be described with words like disappointment, frustration, and even occasionally anger.

Some won't admit it, but anglers by their very nature are competitive. Some fishermen may compete against other anglers. However, all compete against nature and their wiley piscatorial adversary, the fish. In any sort of competition, sometimes your adversary gets the better of you. This brings up an important question, Why do even the most experienced anglers sometimes fail at their quest?

Some folks would say that the fish just weren't biting or conditions were not good. I fished with a fellow once who swore that what you ate the night before could come through your pores and impart a foul smell or taste on your fly that could hinder your success. I would venture that often it has a lot to do with the same reasons a basketball player chokes at the freethrow line or a football kicker shanks a game winning kick. It's often a mental thing.

An angler starts their day in a rush. He rushes to get his gear together and things are misplaced or left behind. He rushes to the river, rushes to get his waders on, rushes to get into the water, and rushes to catch the first trout of the day. All of this rushing about translates into problems on the water that might not even be visible to others fishing with him. Drifts are not long enough. Flies drag. Flies end up in trees. Flies are changed prematurely. Fish are spooked. The angler gets the urgent feeling that they need to hurry and catch a fish and the cycle repeats.

What can you do to keep what should be a great day of fishing from turning into a frustrating day on the water?

  1. Accept that sometimes you are going to blank. The old adage that "if it were easy they would call it catching" comes to mind here. Sometimes you should just enjoy act of trying. Babe Ruth struck out a lot but he also hit a lot of home runs and he took time to enjoy drinking and cigars.
  2. Get your equipment in order the night before and have everything ready to go. Don't expect to be on the water at daylight if you still have to load the truck, feed the dog, and make lunches for a party of 12.
  3. Take your time on the water. Study the river. Take in what is going on around you and make a plan before you wildly flail the water. Lots of tough fish are caught by simply watching quietly from the bank for a few moments.
  4. When all else fails, be like the Great Bambino and break out the single malt and cigars and enjoy them with good friends.

As you might be able to tell from the tone of this post, your humble editor is not immune to the goose egg himself. I look forward to hearing your thoughts about how you cope with the ever possible strike out on the water.


BCM said...

Often times we are so focused on catching that first fish that we fail to acknowledge the beauty that surrounds us. Our pursuit of trout takes us to the most spectacular places on earth, yet most of the time our eyes never leave the water.

When the fishing is slow and that goose egg seems inevitable, I take in my line, stop fishing for just a moment and look around. It is then that I realize why I'm there, and I'll shoot a few photographs.

Sometimes, I find, just taking that moment to clear the mind and soak in my surroundings will put me onto that first fish.

Murdock said...

Excellent point BCM. We should never let catching fish get in the way of enjoying a day on the water!