Fishing In A Crowd Of Your Choosing

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Photos by Steve Seinberg

Photos by Steve Seinberg

By David Grossman

Solitude is one of those ideals we all tout when asked the question, why we fish.

I plan, barter, and beg sometimes for weeks just to realize a few hours of it. But when it comes to being a better fisherman, solitude might not be all it’s cracked up to be. I have never fished better than when I had a regular group of people to push me to up my game from where I started the day. Plus, it’s nice to split the driving, food, booze, and shuttle fees (just sayin’).

I still like fishing by myself these days, and go out of my way to do it every once in awhile when I really need to clear my head. But the older I get, sharing the experience with like-minded friends seems better. Fish selfies suck. I have never seen a good one…never. Screaming for joy with no one around winds up seeming creepy most of the time as well. Having a partner in crime also saves you the embarrassment of crawling back to your truck gravely injured when you have fallen and can’t get up.

P1080049Everyone fishes different rigs, patterns, retrieves, and water types. I have never met anyone that is proficient in everything all the time. There is no better motivation to learn something new than when your buddy is giving you the piscatorial red bottom fishing the slow water with a dry dropper while you have your head buried in the riffles fishing heavy nymphs. I have learned new spots on old rivers just by sitting in the front of the boat while someone else rows and uses their experiences to pick the anchor spots. If you don’t believe my metaphysical arguments, look at it from a straight logistical perspective: You are a better fisherman when you aren’t rowing or poling. It’s simple physics…trust me.

A good crew will make you a better fisherman, but the flip side of that coin also holds true. A bad crew will absolutely make you worse for wear by the end.

Here are a few things to consider when putting together a posse.

  1. There should always be one member of your group that is at least as good a fisherman as you are. If they’re better, then you won the fly fishing lottery.
  2. You should also try to include someone that is not as good a fisherman as you. You were that person once and someone taught you how not to be a total googan on the water. Plus, teaching someone else how to do something is the true mark of someone who knows how to do it.
  3. Don’t be the most motivated person in your crew. This gets old fast. Spending time begging people to go, awakening them from their eighth hangover in four days, and giving them gear that they forgot at home or were just too lazy to acquire only cuts into your fishing time, and there are plenty of things in life that already do that.


I have had a few different crews I’ve fished with over the years. Like everything else in life, a good crew won’t last forever. The inevitabilities of life eventually creep in. People will get jobs, get married, have kids, contract rare and debilitating STDs. But when it’s right, everything that transpires seems a little better, a little brighter, nay even a little more soul-filling, because you have someone there to share it with, and shove their face in how it happened to you and not them. To all my past crews that made me into the fisherman I am today and future crews I have yet to talk shit to, I thank you.

David Grossman
Gink & Gasoline
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11 thoughts on “Fishing In A Crowd Of Your Choosing

  1. I’ve only been fishing for 68 years so I still have a lot to learn. I game fished for 18 years so have probably spent 25,000 hours on game boats and yes a lot of what I learned there I use saltwater fly fishing these days. And yes it still amazes me how much there still is to learn. Cheers BM

  2. I like those suggestions for putting together a posse. I never thought of those things but they make sense. About a month ago, I had just left the dock by myself on my skiff and as i was going by this flat that had one boat on it, I notice the guy on the boat is hooked up. Turns our I knew him and he yells to me that big bull reds are all over the flat. So get out there and catch my first one and it was the biggest red I had ever landed. Easily 38″. And you are right, all the hooting and hollering just seemed weird by myself and the selfie was horrible.

  3. 4. Be an asset. Bring something that the other guys don’t. Any one of a number of things will suffice depending on the crew. A nice bottle of whiskey, carne asada for the grill, delicious breakfast burritos, coco water to keep the crew hydrated, a camera worth taking pictures with, etc… You’ve got the picture. A cumpari once showed up last the evening before floating what appeared to be a grossly swollen river. With his headlights illuminating the picnic table he throw down a dozen articulated streamers and announced, “Everyone grab two.” The productivity the next day assured this act of kindness a spot in the annals not anals.

  4. Over the years, I have fished with a bunch of people. By inertia, the group has whittled down to four of us who fish regularly together or in some subset of the whole. Factors that define the group include:
    1) “Yes” being the usual answer to “Do you want to go fishing?”
    2) Showing up at the take off point, more or less on time
    3) Having your fishing gear and other sh*t together, though everyone will forget something once in a while
    4) Can you stand being in the same car together for 3 hours on a regular basis.

    • Good adds to the list. If the dude can’t show up on time (most the time) prepared for the day it usually says more about him than just his potential as a fishing partner

    • I completely agree with your 4 points, and would add one more- maintain a degree of physical fitness, so that one can wade and hike a full day in order to escape to some remote areas of streams.

  5. I enjoy fishing with a companion or two, but more than that puts me off somewhat. My sons (2) live 4500 miles away, so when they visit it’s fish, fish, fish. Every once in a while I need to take a day off to let my arm rest. They usually come up in September and we fish the “bead bite” in the upper Kenai River. I wouldn’t trade those 2 weeks for anything. I also do quite a bit of fishing with a buddy (Dan) and his wife. There is always something to be learned or shared on most trips. Of course the kids initially learned to fish with me, but have gone on to teach the old man a thing or 2 – which is as it should be. I’ve also learned a lot from Dan, but the reciprocation hasn’t been as good as I’d like it to be.

  6. I really enjoy fishing with a group. Our TU chapter does 4 or 5 long weekend group outings each year. Usually 8 to 12 people. Try to pair up newbies with with someone that can help them catch some fish and not get discouraged. I think the comradery and friendships that develop are just as important as the fishing.

  7. I had the fortune of being invited to join an old posse of friends and relatives to fish SE Alaska. The group was mostly cordial with the exception of one pushy, know it all, negative Ned who made fun of others mistakes often. He was good but I pretty much avoided his abrasive company but the group leader picked up on this and started shunning me as an outsider. I enjoyed the fishing but didn’t care that despite my attempts at being friendly, I had been made to feel unwelcome by the very people who’d invited me. Next time I’ll be more selective of whom I spend my quality time. I’ve been told by other friends this happens on trips with anglers who don’t know each other-one upsmanship.

  8. Posse requirements:
    1. Don’t be a cheapskate. I don’t mind lending you flies, but when we stop at the fly shop to gain intel and buy flies, don’t be “that” guy every time.
    2. L2R:
    2a. L2R. Yep, Learn to Row. You don’t have to be great, but be committed to learning. I almost sunk a drift boat on the Big Hole my first day on the sticks, but I stuck with it. If I can L2R, you can too.
    2b. L2R. Yep, Learn to Rig….and re-rig in normally measurable quantities of time.
    3. Have a sense of humor. Fishing can be slow. Weather can suck. Enjoy just being out.
    4. Be aggressive, or be passive. But nobody likes passively aggressive people.

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