A lot of times as a fly fisherman I have to check myself at the door. And by that I mean, I can't get to comfortable with what I'm doing every time I go fishing. I enjoy the challenge of not knowing what is going on with the fish all the time. Solving puzzles is a lot of fun. But I sometimes will fall back on what I know or am comfortable with. I usually catch fish. And sometimes I have great fish catching days. But that does not always translate into me becoming a better fly fisherman.
Have you ever started to feel like you were getting to know a place, and then have something happen to totally reverse that feeling? And I'm not talking about a good feeling turned bad, or the feeling that that you missed out on something. I'm talking about a feeling of revelation!!
This past Friday I took my two boys to Black creek for a little fly fishing. It was a good morning, as we all caught fish. But what made it even better was the shared insight of a passionate seasoned angler who spends all his time fishing Black creek. He is not a fly fisherman. But a fisherman none the less. And he was not one of these "old timers" who now spend their retirement fishing every day either. No! He was a young man in his teens. And his passion and knowledge reminded me of what fishing was like to me at that age. And for that matter, still is today!
He walked around with a seine scrapping the bottom of the stream trying to get some live crayfish to use as bait. He then would put them in an empty coffee cup, and when he had enough, he would start fishing.
We had seen him before, and he recognized us right away. We watched him work as we fished. And soon he was joining the fishing just below the spillway on the opposite side of where we were fishing. We talked back and forth. And he shared with us some fantastic stories of fish caught and lost that would make any ones eyes light up. Stories of giant fish that he had caught right where we were fishing. He told us of walleye that he was catching recently along with some big pike(up to 38" long.) He also told us of a few big 20" smallmouth that he seems to catch every day. He even shared a story of a really nice sized trout that he caught in the spring below the dam. And this is supposed to be a warm water fishery! And finally, the icing on the cake, was a story of an almost unimaginable small child eating 52" beast of a northern pike. Sorry, I had to embellish the "small child eating" part. Anyone who has seen a pike that big will surely tell you that they would not want to swim in water where a fish like that lurked. He had said the big 52" northern took a large creek chub that he was using for bait. And he then told me that he had caught the creek chubs in his seine in another part of the same creek. If even half of his stories are true....it is still an impressive resume'.
This is someone who has made a study out of Black creek and has come to know it well. His use of every bit of knowledge that he has gained was impressive. His enthusiasm and passion for fishing Black creek made me realize how much more I needed to learn about this great place. I am now thinking about how to tie flies to meet the requirements for catching a large northern pike. I am also in process of tying some crayfish patterns for some big bass.
It was a great experience for me. And when I got home I came to the understanding that I was learning from this young man. Usually I focus on fly fishing and how I can learn from my friends who I get to fish with from time to time. But this time I was able to gain insight from a "non-fly fisherman" who had a lot more knowledge about Black creek than me.
When I was a young fly fisherman there were many times when I was able to watch and learn from more experienced guys. And every now and then there would be this one guy who seemed to have it all figured out. He would catch the biggest and the most. He seemed to have the right fly at the right time. He knew where the fish were and how to get the right drift every time. He knew the stream and the fish that lived there so intimately that he was always a couple of steps ahead of everyone else. This is where I wanted to be as a fly fisherman. And to some extent...I still do! I have worked hard to learn from those guys and on my own to try and get there. I know I'm not there yet. But I am always trying to learn more and become the best fly fisherman that I can be. Sharing my passion with others who are equally passionate will only help. And this past Friday the tables were turned and I was able to learn from a younger guy who didn't fly fish.
So I'm sending a special thanks to all of you who have shared the passion with me and with whom I have learned a great deal from. You know who you are!!!!! You are all a blessing....keep it real. Or is that reel? Ha
See you on the stream!