Monday, July 21, 2014

Fly Fishing On The Edges

Your Olympic Peninsula Fly fishing Guide-
Catch & Release, Fly Fishing Only!

Fly Fishing On The Edges

 Out on the edges of things, along the boundaries and borders, in the little in-between spaces, and in the least likely of waters, sometimes life's best lessons come as a surprise. 

Perhaps we are simply fishing for our own lost innocence.

 Most of us started out our fishing lives with the idea that we had to get right to the center of it all, in the honey hole, the jackpot hole. We had to know where the fish were. And we fished aggressively and hard. We had to catch all of the fish that we possibly could. And some of us did. Especially on bait. Once we moved on to fly fishing, things changed. Along with decades of over fishing, pollution toxicity, development and loss of wild fish habitats, many of the best, good old places had lost much of their charm, and most of their wild fish runs. In many once prolific waters the wild runs are gone now. Replaced, in varying degrees of success and failure with hatchery fish. But that was all that we had to fish for, so we went straight to the center of that game, just downstream of the hatchery, and fished hard. If all we cared about was catching fish, we were happy.

 But some of us grew weary of the hatchery mentality- the cheap and easy quick fix for lost wild fish runs, that ended up costing us too much in lost wild fish genes, and the wasted dollars on diminishing returns of obviously inferior fish. Now with hatchery reforms being enacted in many regions, and wild fish being protected and supported in spawning, there is a smattering of hope, here and there, for the restoration of our wild fish runs. Some fishermen are accepting the decreases in hatchery production, and the lost fishing opportunity, as a necessary investment in improving conditions for wild fish, to retain their genetic integrity, and to improve survival of more wild juvenile fish. And there are others who remain focused on catching maximum numbers of fish, no matter where they come from, and they don't want to see any reductions in hatchery fish production. In fact they are demanding more. And occasionally things have gotten nasty between anglers with differing values in this regard.

Waging The Fish Wars.
 A new kind of Fish War has emerged today- one between the warring factions of fishermen, all kinds of fishermen, as each angry divisive phalanx lines up to engage the others in heated debates over fishing methods, fishing rights, the value of wild vs hatchery strain fish, the need for or arguments against wild fish harvest, etc. It can be kind of wearying. And the distraction of fisheries politics can take a lot away from your fishing enjoyment. It can even ruin it if you allow it to do so.

For our sanity . . .

 Maybe the best thing to do is to move off to the edges of things. This is not to say that we must give up the good fight of protecting our wild places and watersheds, and the wild fish. But to retreat and regroup, and to stay sane, we have to keep things in perspective. So occasionally it helps to get away from the center, off to the smaller places, and work along the fringes, fishing the eddy lines and drop offs, hunting in the slow water drifts, and under the foamy, shallow, white pocket water, and in between the slippery rocks and big boulders. When I begin to feel jaded by all of the hate and phony statistics from the biostitutes and hacks, and the harsh judgments that spew from hateful minds- I go looking for the little quiet places, the hidden peaceful spots, the places no one else seems to go. And they are everywhere. I no longer worry about finding other people fishing in my favorite fishing locations. I am counting on the little places to reveal a gem. We have caught big, bright wild steelhead in the kinds of places you would expect to catch a tiny brook trout. And we have caught dozens of smaller wild trout on dry flies, within a few feet of the same drifts. And we have spent days fishing tide water with surface flies, catching wild sea run Cutthroat, with no one else in sight. But not always- And yet still we felt renewed.

A wild sea-run Cutthroat in autumn.

 Sometimes we did not catch any fish. And yet we felt better for it anyway, redeemed in some way, simply for being there. Aside from thinking of sizes and numbers of fish, there is simply the joy and freedom of ambling along a stream or beach, wading and casting a fly amid the dappling light, and the dripping beauty of a mountain forest canopy, or basking in the azure light, fishing the saltchuck flats of a summer beach, angling for sea run Cutthroat and Coho, watching the soft red glow of a sunset encroaching. We let it all unfold. 

  I think perhaps that all we are really fishing for is our own lost innocence. And like any kind of fishing, in the beginning, we look for it in all of the wrong places. But if we stick with it, and we get off of the beaten path a little, and we fish someplace new, trusting our efforts are not  in vain, we just might make the catch of  a lifetime. It always comes as a surprise. This kind of fishing is always it's own reward. 

Sea run Coastal Cutthroat trout.

 To learn more about Puget Sound and Olympic Peninsula fly fishing, call or write for details. 

Olympic Peninsula Fly Fishing Guide and Instructor

  I am guiding fly fishers on the Olympic Peninsula beaches, rivers and streams. We walk and wade, fly fishing for sea-run Coastal Cutthroat trout in freshwater and saltwater, and in the rivers for trout and summer steelhead. This is strictly catch and release, traditional fly fishing only. Lunch, snacks, soft beverages, and use of some equipment is included. Personalized and private fly fishing and fly casting instruction, and guided trips are available, to beginners through expert anglers. Public presentations, Naturalist guide for Rowboat Picnics and Tide Pool day trips. Please call, write or email for booking details.

Bob Triggs
Little Stone Flyfisher
P.O. Box 261
Port Townsend, WA

Licensed Washington State Guide 
Certified Fly Casting Instructor
Trout Unlimited Aquatic Educator Award
U.S.C.G First Aid/CPR/BLS/AED/BBP/HIV Certified

Phone: 360-385-9618

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