There he stands... toting more gear than a telephone repairman, trying to outwit a creature
with a brain the size of a pea, and usually getting whipped in the process. Why? What makes
normally sane people decide to spend their time and money in such a pursuit? Really, what
makes a fly angler?
Why do we fish at all? Long past is the time when people must fish for food, yet angling
remains one of the most popular outdoor recreational activities in America. All anglers share
certain qualities; they enjoy nature, they appreciate the need to spend time relaxing with family
and friends, they appreciate the simple beauty of our aquatic neighbors, and, of course, the
challenge of pitting themselves against raw forces of nature. The majority of these participants
are tackle or bait anglers, although fly fishing has seen an increase in popularity and publicity
in recent years. There are many reasons why people choose to take up the art of fly angling,
probably too many to list in this writing. Let me explain why I became a fly angler.
My first experience with a fly rod came in December of 1997. I was visiting some family and
friends in Northern California, and my good friend David Young (an accomplished outdoors
man in his own right) took me to Lake Amador, a stocked still water fishery. He explained
the fundamentals of fly casting, let me practice a little bit, and then we loaded up in the float
tubes for a day on the water. I got skunked that day, not even a bump. But Dave was having
a slow day also, so I didn't feel too bad. My first fly angling experience left me rather
I moved to Northern California in the fall of 1998, and for the next six months or so Dave
took me out on a couple of occasions, even a day float trip down the Yuba River during
the salmon spawn. While I did enjoy myself on these trips, it hadn't really hooked me
(pun intended) . . . until. . .
In the early spring of 1999, Dave and I (that's Dave on the Yuba in the photo on the right)
were fishing a year-round tailwater on the Yuba River. It is a fly fishing only,
catch-and-release fishery, so it is seldom crowded. On this particular
day I was fishing a size 14 Parachute Adams on a productive-looking run. I had a few small
grabs, but had been unable to get any fish in hand all day. Then I had a nice cast upstream
of a submerged branch, and my bug drifted right by . . . and sure enough I had a take!
The battle was hardly an epic one, after two decent sprints I worked the native buck
rainbow into my net. At around sixteen inches he certainly wasn't the largest fish I have
ever caught. But he certainly is one of the most memorable fish I have ever seen. Even
now I can close my eyes and see the brilliant streak of red flashing down his side, dividing
his spotted back from his white belly. At the moment that he vanished into the cold water
flowing past, everything in the entire universe was reduced to one man, one fish, and a
river rushing by on its timeless journey to the sea.
I was one with nature. Life suddenly made sense. Never have I felt so completely at
peace. A fly angler was born. ~ Chris Grinsted