One thing I’ve observed over the past 20 something years of guiding is that most hunters fish , but very few fisherman hunt, I’ll expand on that statement to include wing shooting in with the fisherman, but its certainly not the case with trophy hunting. It is, what it is.
Unlike trophy hunting, our fly fishing is 95% catch and release. If on the odd occasion we are lake fishing and feel that trout would make a nice change to the menu that seems to consist of wild pork and venison mixed in with ducks and sea food, we will bring a fish back for dinner.
Our river” blue ribbon” fisheries are just not prolific enough, fish numbers wise, in the majority of cases, to sustain taking fish on a regular basis, better to leave them to live for another day. Or is it? Consider the fact that as a guide we do get to know our fisheries extremely well, well enough to know and expect certain fish to be in certain places at certain times. With our gin clean back country fisheries this is indeed the case. Fish are creatures of habit, there requirements are simple, food and safety, in a predator free environment trout will either be out feeding or in their safety zones. If they are feeding you’ll find them in the exact location in the pools and runs time after time, its their back yard so they have learned where to expect feed to be at any given time. If they aren’t out feeding then they will be either lying resting in the slack water and you have a slim chance of getting them to except your offerings but its a chance. If on the other hand the pool appears devoid of trout then you know that they are in there “boltholes”. Why? There are many reasons but the big thing is its not my fault, but I digress. Big fish or old fish that hold prime lie in a pool will in my opinion do so to the determent of any other trout attempting to establish their presence in that pool. Remove the ‘resident” fish and you will make way for new recruitment and that may be several fish of lesser size but several fish gives way more opportunity than a single or a couple of resident fish. Easier said than done however, as we all like the certainty of knowing that “george ” or “mary” will be at home just around the corner. Even if we have caught or attempted to catch these fish on numerous occasions over many seasons.
Thankfully I’m not restricted to “blue ribbon” fisheries, in fact I tend to stay clear of these fisheries, especially in the latter part of the season. But its all a matter of expectation. You as the client/fisherman have charged us, the guide, with taking you to the best place on the day to match your abilities and expectations. If a big fish is what you want then big fish is what we will attempt to find, likewise if you would be happier with several smaller, everything is relative, fish then we can hopefully take you to the venue that will meet those requirements. This is however totally at the hand of what the weather gods and mother nature have conspired to present us with on the given day. Thankfully fisherman are optimists and have short memories, or should I say we all have that interesting habit of quickly forgetting the many, many not so good days for the occasional great day. Its this very unpredictable nature of our pursuit that draws us to the water day after day, imagine how boring it would get if every good cast was rewarded with a fish. I can only imagine!
The 2012-2013 season is still 4 long months away but come October the fly boxes will be fill, having spent many dreamy hours at the tying bench over the cold short winter months. Expectations for the coming season are never a given but just knowing or imagining what lies ahead will be more than enough to have us all ready for next season. Over the years we have followed a naturally path in that 85% of our anglers have fished with us many time before, some of you will be making trip number 12, others will return for trip number 10. What this means is that we all know each other pretty well by now and take the good with the not so good and savor those exceptional days.
Sue and I are looking forward to seeing you all again this coming season. If I could, I’d promise you all an upstream breeze, clear water and rising trout ever day. See you all soon.