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.”