Evan is an elderly gentleman I’ve run into at least five times in the last three years. He walks the paths near where I fish for steelhead and cutthroat through the late winter months. I actually don’t know his name, though we’ve spent enough time talking now where I feel like I should know his name, so it’s going to be awkward when we finally get around to formal introductions. Though realistically, I’m really not sure he recognizes me from our previous conversations. Regardless, he looks like he could be an Evan. He’s relatively short with glasses (and without I assume) and looks like a kinder, happier, wispy haired version of the actor Ed Harris.
Sometimes the best way to say something difficult is just to say it. So here it goes. Fly fishing sucks.
It’s actually really hard. The visuals presented in fly-fishing films and Instagram photos are quite misleading. Sure it looks inviting, but there’s so much you don’t see…like how many mosquitoes and black flies the angler had to swat away while holding that prize trout at just the right angle, which is only slightly out of the water (like only one third of the fish). And you also have to position it at the perfect angle, with one hand holding the fish’s tail just slightly outstretched and the other arm, bending only slightly at the elbow, holding the fish’s body nearly fully extended. There’s a reason it’s called “angling.” It’s so complicated. And if you have really large hands and are naturally “big boned” then you need to really question whether or not you want to take up fly fishing at all. Trout appear smaller when held by large people, which will not make for enticing social media images.
The logjam provided enough depth and structure to hold decent sized trout. I waded in just below it to about thigh deep and made a good cast up to where it looked like the large fish should be holding. My beetle pattern bobbed and drifted a foot or two from about the half-way-point of the jam where a few larger logs protruded into the river. I pulled quickly at the line to manage the slack as the current pushed the terrestrial toward me.
Outwaiting a fish has never been a problem for me. Patience of this variety is not a superhero’s quality, but if it were, I’d be fighting crime rather than writing about fishing. So when I first stumbled upon Dr. Seuss’ book Oh, the Places You’ll Go! as a university student on a late-night outing to Chapters, I couldn’t understand why he portrayed “waiting for the fish to bite” with all the other negative aspects of waiting, like “waiting for a train to go / or a bus to come.”
Ours is considered a gentle sport for the most part, and that trait is part of its attraction. Recently, more people are finding solace and clarity—and much-needed gentleness—in the outdoors and the activities there, one of which is fly fishing.
And while it’s true that fishing, called the “contemplative man’s recreation” by Isaac Walton, can indeed be gentle and thought-provoking, sometimes our contemplation needs to be sharply focused.
An example is the recent controversy and struggle to prevent construction of a huge copper and gold mine in Alaska, called Pebble Mine. The effects of the mine on the environment and the Bristol Bay watershed would have been massive. For now the project has been canceled, thanks to participation in a long, arduous fight by a great number of people and groups who value the outdoors, including fly fishers.
A similar battle has been escalating in Alberta in recent months over the threat to the future health of land and water posed by proposed expansion of open-pit coal mining. The mountains and foothills are the headwaters and domain of Alberta’s best and best-known trout streams: The Oldman River, the Crowsnest River, the Livingstone River, the Highwood River, the Ram River, plus all their critical tributaries. These mountains and foothills are the Alberta wilderness.
One of the many reasons I’m drawn to fly fishing is that success has to be earned: developing a consistently tight loop, smooth swing, or drag-free drift doesn’t happen overnight. This higher-than-normal barrier to entry is also why I am drawn to hike-in fishing. Living in BC’s lower mainland, you’re likely to experience some variation of combat fishing in virtually any fishery that’s accessible by vehicle and within an hour of Vancouver. For those without jetboats or helicopters, hiking into remote bodies of water is only a sturdy pair of hiking boots and a pack away, and can be an incredibly rewarding fishing experience.
The Missouri River in Montana is a fine place to go for a serving of humble pie. The hatches are often heavy and the fish seem to appreciate them, frequently gathering in groups to feed daintily in the glassy currents. But the smooth surface of the water and the ever-present assembly of fly fishers make the trout – well – just plain hard to fool most of the time.
Cody Richardson is a Colorado native and a fly-fishing fanatic. He’s loved fishing his entire life and adores that it’s become his job. When we were asking him about his passion, he explained how pretty much everything in his life is about fishing and he wouldn’t have it any other way. He recently moved house and the first thing he did was look on www.aquadocklights.com for dock fishing lights. His job revolves around fishing. When he isn’t fly fishing, he is looking for new equipment or watching fishing programmes. It’s fair to say he’s passionate about what he does. Read More
When asked about their future careers, many kids give one of a few common responses: doctor, athlete, astronaut, scientist. But when I was a kid there was something different in my mind – something that’s still there. My thoughts were gripped by stories of harsh and unforgiving landscapes in Alaska and northern Canada. Secretly I dreamed of exploring wild, undiscovered lakes and rivers full of giant fish that took my flies freely. My heart ached to search out places untouched, unspoiled and un-fished.