February 23rd, 2004

By James Castwell

This column may be of some value or not, but hopefully, it's no worse than most of mine. Being winter time I get to thinking more than in other seasons, not sure if that is good or bad, hence the opening sentence. I got to thinking about some of you who keep records. Records in little books or, fashionable these days, on the computer. The LF and I were sitting around in the livingroom last week and got into a rather long discussion about this stuff. I put the T.V. on mute and thought I might share a bit of what evolved. These are a few of the elements we talked about.

"Let's assume you fished for twenty or thirty years and have never kept a record of anything, I said as I reached for my coffee cup on the end table. To start now may not be a good idea."

"Why," she asked?

I raised an eyebrow and replied, "Well, you have gone this long without any, how's that working for you? Ok, I guess, or you would have started before this. Right?"

She said, "Or, what if you have kept a few notes scribbled in a little pad over time and you decide to organize them, perhaps even put them on your PC. That wouldn't too hard to do. You could examine each month and see how many fish you got on an average.

"I suppose you could track all sorts of things that way. Suppose it shows that you averaged 3.3 fish each time you fished in the month of July over the years."

Settling back into her chair and unbuttoning her focus from the ceiling fan, she said, "You know what?"

"Ok, what?"

"Follow this for a bit," she put her fingers together in a little church shape under her chin like she does when she is really on point.

"The next time you go out, say it's in July and you only get 2.2 fish, you have failed to live up to your average. You may be aware of it while on the stream too and for sure that will change how you view the event."

"You're saying that keeping records might change your fly-fishing and perhaps not for the best?"

"Sure," she said. "Or at least be aware that it could happen. Keeping track of where, when, who, what etc. may seem like a neat idea but may take you to a different place in our sport."

"And one from which you will not be able to retreat. Neat!" Returning from the kitchen, I topped off both coffee cups. "You can not 'un-ring' a bell, I said. "Once you know the real facts, they may be impossible to forget."

She did the hand church thing again and after a moment, "Maybe just going out and fishing as usual would be the best plan after all. And the same may be true about some of your tackle. That big inventory you have always thought should be done may be better left alone too. Do you really want to know how many rods, reels, spare spools, fly lines and fly boxes you actually do own?"

Well, that idea came from way out in left field (not uncommon for our conversations) and I took a bit of time to answer it.

I put my cup down, "Sure, you are saying that if you are just starting out that one is pretty easy, one rod, one reel, one fly line one fly-box and 'some' flies. But at my stage in life, it might scare hell out of me?"

"Yup," she said. "Everything you do is so damned organized it is ridiculous. Fly fishing is supposed to be recreation, relaxing, fun stuff; time for you and me."

I agreed. How could I not. She paddled off to her computer and I did the same. I got to thinking about those guys who have a clicker on their vest and record each fish rose, missed, hooked or released, hope it's working for them. Whether or not, it's probably not possible to change now.

From my perspective I chose not to keep records. I have some 'Tide-Logs' that over the years I have made a few notes in, but really never have gone back to read them, probably never will. Certainly not to influence any future fishing.

And yet, I am sure some of you are deliriously happy with fly-fishing and your scrupulous record keeping along with it and that is fine too.

My point is, kind of look before you leap, think about, see if it may change things for you. If it might, forget about it. ~ James Castwell

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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