Sooner or later in every person’s life, there comes a time when you have to put your money where your mouth is. Walk the talk. Put up or shut up. And so today, it was my turn. I have gone to great lengths in the past to convince fishing clients and fellow anglers that catching fish is not really what fishing is about. Usually this conversation comes at the end of a long hard day when the fish haven’t been co-operative and you are looking for pearls of wisdom to help cushion the disappointment of being skunked.
And so today was my turn. Along with Cody Kuester, it was time to christen the boat for the season and float the river for the first time this year. The weather, in the form of snowstorms, had forced the cancellation of a couple of trips planned over the last couple of weeks, but this Monday afternoon was the day. We set off above town with the water lovely and clear, and a gentle breeze pushing us down the river. Now one of the challenges of fishing at this time of the year is to try and figure out the dynamic. There are so many variables – weather, water temperature and clarity, no to mention insect activity, that make fishing this time of the year so unpredictable. Apres run off, it seems a fisherman can set cruise control – water levels are stable, clarity generally good and water temperatures are conducive to bugs hatching and active fish.
Spring time, it tends to be more of a roller coaster. Red hot one day, flatlined the next. Summer time, they will feed on pretty much anything – stone flies, caddis, pmds – if it floats, they’ll eat it. Spring time it seems they are a lot more finicky, keying in on one stage of one particular insect. One day it will be stone fly nymphs, the next baetis emergers, the next caddis larva. Sometimes all of the above at different times of the same day.
So all of this is a round about way of trying to explain why we didn’t catch anything. Below town, the water was murked up some owing to the work currently being done on the whitewater park, and while that didn’t help, its not like we were slaying them above town. Incidentally, it is great to see the next phase of the park happening. This is an excellent project, and kudos to the Arkansas River Trust and all others involved.
When in doubt, blame the weather, so maybe the day was too fine and sunny. Or maybe the fact that we didn’t have any beer along was to blame – getting skunked was the fish’s way of revoking our Man Cards. We can read all the books, have all the gear and spout all the theories, but still we are only one half of the equation. If the fish haven’t reading from the same book, then all fishing really is about is a fishing rod with a jerk on one end. The point is that at this time of the year, we could go and float the same stretch again tomorrow, throw the same flies, and catch a bunch of fish. One of my intentions with the videos is to show fishing how it really is, not like some heavily edited ESPN show where the fisherman never screws up a cast, and never misses a fish. So while my initial reaction was to delete the footage and try again next week, I decided I had better be true to my creed and celebrate a day on the river for what it is – always fun, sometimes challenging, and always better than most other things you could be doing.
A beer would have been nice though. Of course, all the usual accompaniments for a day on the river came along: a bit of wind, some tangles, a few lost flies, everything but the fish. And beer. Did I mention we left that behind? Hopefully the fish will be gracious enough to return my card to me next time.