I have, more than once, literally and with great patience, talked some fly fishers out of trying to catch "just one more".
course I don't mean I am trying to talk people out of the sport of fly
fishing. What I mean is we need to share the resource, slow down a bit
and rise above our compulsiveness and egos. Maybe the goal is that
everyone in a party gets one fish and that is enough.
fish is not enough then 10 will also not be enough. Here is how I see
it. If you are fishing with family and friends and you catch a fish but
your friend or family member has not, then we need to allow him or her,
if possible, to catch up so to speak. We stop fishing, we stop competing
and help the person out.
Of course this is not a perfect
system but that could be our goal. One fish, maybe two for each one of
us. One or two is enough. Its going to have to be if we want the fish to
survive. We would have to talk ourselves out of fly fishing for the
good of the resource and for the good of a friend or loved one. But this
is not going to be easy as I know I love to catch as many fish as
possible and don't like to leave an opportunity unfinished.
remember guiding one afternoon on the dream stream when I was in my
late 20's. It was a large group and we were spread all out on the river.
My 3 clients had caught several fish and it was time to head back to
the bus. As we were walking along the river I saw another guide and
friend. Steve was still with a client working a fish in a run we used to
call "Lower Two Riffs". Steve suddenly yelled "strike" and the client
did a bass type strike and broke off the fish again.
you do Steve"? I asked. He said they did ok but there was one big fish
that they broke off three times. Steve helped his clients out of the run
and were slowly walking back to the bus. I also kept walking but more
slowly as I was scanning the run where that client had just broken off
that big fish and I saw that it was still rising to the BWO hatch. I
half heartily mumbled to Steve, "So, how big was the fish". He said,
That was the way the dream stream fished in the old
days. You could get several chances at a big fish. Now a days, if you
spook a big fish he will disappear and rest somewhere licking his
wounds. Or so it seems.
While guiding I often carry a 2
weight rod rigged with a dry fly in case we have a hatch I will
sometimes work with a client on dry fly skills but it is generally
harder to get a beginner to hook a fish on a dry. But I love to throw a
dry and especially back when I was in my late 20's and felt I had a
right to show off now and then. So I hastily said to my clients that I
was walking with that I just had to make one cast (Since I could see the
fish rising I justified it???). We were probably 60 yards away from the
run. I said, "Ill catch up to you, it will only take a minute", as I
started a light jog to the run. I made one cast, hooked and landed the
large 22 inch rainbow. I got a few cheers from my clients, and the
gentleman who broke off the fish 3 times; well I'm not sure how he truly
reacted, perhaps he was angry that I caught his fish. Before
releasing the fish I gently pulled out 3 extra flies from his mouth. I
caught up to Steve and gave Steve his flies back. Yep, they were all
his. I enjoyed a bit of laughter from Steve and the clients.
for a few minutes on the Dream Stream I was a type of fly fishing Guru,
a "jet I fish-master", or maybe, when I think about it more deeply, I
was a loser; a pathetic, arrogant guide in my 20's who just had to
show off and catch the big fish and stress it out even more. (at least I
got those 3 extra hooks out of his mouth but that does not justify my
behavior that afternoon.). I was not considerate to the fish nor the
gentleman who broke the fish off 3 times, nor my clients who I was
walking back with and chatting about the afternoon of fishing.
is hard to say "no more" to oneself while fishing. It is difficult to
leave those fish alone. Maybe it only comes after one has fished a life
time. I don't know. I think many people think just because a river is
catch and release that we have a right to catch all the fish we can.
There are a lot of great guides and fly fishers out there who could have duplicated my actions and caught that fish and probably even done it in a more graceful manner. But that is not the issue. The issue is that we are going to have to think of these fish as a treasure and that when we fish we are going to have to learn to back off and not feel that we have to catch every fish in the river and go for every opportunity. Or another way is to think of these fish is as our personal property. If that is so, then another question I like to ask myself, is to consider if these were my fish on my private ranch would I allow thousands of people to have "limitless" access to catch as many fish as possible every day of the year and be allowed to use all fly fishing techniques from 3 fly nymph rigs to shuffling to using pegged eggs and worm patterns?
I would not. I would not allow nymph rigs. Perhaps I
would make it a dry fly only river. I would not allow people to wade the
river (you would have to learn to cast from the bank). I would close
the river at least one day a week. I would close the river during the
spawn. I would limit the number of anglers per day. I would not allow
fishing in the heat of the afternoon hours. Close the river down at
1:00pm. These are just a few suggestions. I would do what ever is
necessary to preserve the wildness of the fishery. But in our public
waters such as the "Dream Stream" we are light years away from enacting
such regulations. We place our egos and money above protecting the