Wednesday, September 3
Trout People Confessional
The conversation normally goes something like this:
"Oh you fish!?! We limited out on walleye in 45 minutes! 45 minutes! Hell, I was home in time to watch the news!"
"You fish? I fish a lot! I mean a lot! Caught two "master angler" brook trout out of a lake in the U.P. They didn't taste very good though Strangest thing, never once pulled another nice fish out of that little lake. Not even worth fishing anymore if you ask me."
"Oh you fish? Man, 54 blue gill out of lake Big Swingin Dick last Friday. FIFTY FOUR! Can you believe that? I mean shit, 54. My buddy caught 36 the night before, but yesterday we only caught 16. Today started off good, caught 15 in the morning but only managed 6 this afternoon. I'd really hoped to catch at least 54 again today, but it's looking like we'll only be bringing about 33 home. Can't win 'em all."
I've accepted that there is a chance I may be a trout snob. Could it be true? I probably am. Bloody hell, I am. Not in the prick sense of the word, (most of the time) just in the sense that the trout is my fish. In my world it is the most revered and profound of all the fishes.
In a nut shell my fishing philosophy, maybe life philosophy, is this: More than anything I prefer to be fishing. More specifically, I prefer to chase trout with a fly rod. If that's not possible, I'd prefer to chase salmon with a fly rod. If that's not possible, I'd prefer to chase any fish with a fly rod. If that's not possible, I'd prefer to fish a spinning rod. If I can't do that, I'd prefer to fish...any way possible. If I can't do that, well, that's why I started a blog...so I can at least write about trout.
I have about as much in common with a fish counter as I do with a cruise ship captain. Yep, we both spend a lot of time on the water, but that's where the similarities end. As most of us are, I'm guilty of having a bit of big fish envy from time to time (maybe more than that), and occasionally suffer from a case of big fish pride, but for me big fish and big numbers are not the destination, they are but an occasional byproduct of the journey. They are an excuse to stay out all night, a reason to be unreasonable, and the cause of many an exciting predicament. What they are not is the end all be all.
I've had fish filled days on the water and weeks where I haven't laid eyes on a fish. What interests me about your "master angler" brook trout or your 50 fish days is not necessarily the size, not the number...but the FEELING. Tell me about how your heart skipped a beat when you first felt the full weight of the fish and I will gladly listen. Tell me about the rush of adrenaline when your walleye first broke the surface and you have my ear. Tell me not about how many blue gill you pulled in, but what it FELT like to catch so many fish your arms ached, or maybe that your kid was there to experience it for the first time. I don't want to hear about how quickly you can limit out (don't break your arm patting yourself on the back), but what I do want to know is how fulfilling it must have been to devote so much time learning a piece of water and reap the "fruits of your labor"...or maybe that it was at that old spot your dad used to take you when you were a kid...
I'm of the school of thought that most people are genuinely good and normally mean well. People that would do the right thing when faced with the choice. However, that doesn't mean that I feel it necessary to "suffer fools."
I can listen to most anyone talk about fishing, but it seems more and more that people don't want to talk about fishing, they want to talk about catching (I suffer from the malady myself from time to time too). I think that's another reason why I'm a trout "snob"...I enjoy talking to other trout obsessed people. Someone that can describe and understand the feeling of walking 3 miles through the swamp and the exhilaration of an 8" brook trout in the beaver pond his grandpa showed him. What it's like to sit high on the bank of a winding creek, losing themselves as they gaze into the riffles that have a way of reflecting more than a mirror ever could. There's something innately different about us. Our obsession starts deep in the under currents of rivers and lakes, mystery and wonder, and works it's way up to the surface where a feeding trout breaks the boundary of what we had imagined was there and creates the tangible link in an otherwise intangible feeling. Trout people understand that. There is a love there, between trout snobs, trout bums, and trout, that few others can understand. A one sided love, true, but a love nonetheless.