November 15th, 2004

Too Fast?
By James Castwell


There was a time when the beautiful cedar lined Au Sable (soft 'a') of Michigan's lower peninsula had Grayling in it, so many they even named a town Grayling. The town prospered during the lumbering era and lumbering wiped out the Grayling. Now there are no more Grayling and no more lumbering. But there is still trout fishing for browns and brookies, I know, I did a lot of it in the 50's and 60's. The main road was not paved when I first started fishing there.

In years even earlier travel was not as easy and most fly fishers stayed a little closer to home. Some spent years learning the foibles of their 'home waters.'

Not much exists like that these days. Travel is nearly unlimited for many. Fly gear is fantastic compared to much of what was in normal use in the earlier part of our century. Save a few bucks, hop a flight and fish tonight almost anywhere your heart desires. This changes things.

Fly fishing, in the past, was for many a method of procuring fish, namely trout. Most streams had a surplus and eating your catch was not considered a slip in moral and ethical judgement. The availability of written information was sparse then too. Many things had not yet been learned, and if were, had not yet been reduced to print. Fishing was based a lot more on hope.

Hope the inexpensive bamboo rod did not break. Hope your line did not sink and your leader did not break and your boots did not leak and your flies did not sink unless they were supposed to. Hope has away of generating a delightful degree of anticipation and eagerness. Sometimes when we know too much about a thing we take all of the mystery out of it. Like the magician when he reveals the trick. When we have confidence in a particular fly that worked well last week or last month or last year we use a different set of rules and tactics.

Really now, just how much fun would it be if you knew exactly what insect the trout were eating, exactly what time of day they ate them, and you had a box full of them? Right, too easy, too simple, no challenge, no fun.

So how did some of us get this way? How did we learn 'too' much? Have many of us learned too much about the bugs, the when and where, what gear to use and how and when? Sometimes we have. One of the reasons we go to other places to fish. Worse yet, we are in such a hurry to learn it all and as fast as we can, we hire a guide.

Well, that takes the mystery out of it in a hurry. Fun? Oh, sure it is. And we do not have the time to learn all of it by ourselves and if we want to catch anything at all we need a guide. But, we don't have to do that at home. Do we?

Can we put a higher value on the 'mystery' of fly fishing? Like reading a good book slowly to make it last. Some can do that, some can't. The real enjoyment of fly fishing is not always in the tonnage of fish, but in learning the myriad of things necessary to pull it off. And valuing each and every step along the path. Maybe to just fish a fly for the hell of it, just because it looks...'buggy.'

It's been said that "Fly-fishing is a lot like life; those who finish first are not the winners." ~ JC


Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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