Sunday Classic / Don’t Let Yourself Get Numb to the Reward

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Taking the time to admire and revive a beautiful trout. Photo By: Louis Cahill

Is that cookie cutter rainbow trout making you feel numb inside? Are you losing the feeling of reward lately on the water?

Two decades have passed since I caught my first trout on a fly rod, and even with all those years that have gone by, I can still picture that beautiful 12″ trout in my hands clear as day. I remember that little bugger coming up and crushing my parachute adams, like it was the first piece of food it had seen in days. The feeling of accomplishment and reward I received from catching that trout was so strong, it gave me a perma-grin ear to ear, and a natural high that lasted the rest of the day.

Nowadays I often find I’m becoming numb to the reward I get from most of my catches. Landing a big trophy fish or fooling a lone sipper on the far bank still gets my adrenaline pumping, don’t get me wrong, but they all seem to fall short of the feeling I got from landing my first 12″ trout. Why is that? Am I turning into a snob? I’m sad and ashamed to admit it, but I think I am. That’s why lately I’ve made a point to try to take the time to always reflect back to those early days before I step foot in the water. If I’m guiding, I’ll show up extra early before my trip begins, and picture my anxious client driving over the mountains to meet me. I clear my mind and focus on how excited he or she is about the fishing trip that’s about to start, and how they probably lost sleep the night before picturing trout rising to their dry fly. Doing this, it gets me pumped up, keeps me grounded, and puts me in a zone so I can be the best guide I can be. When I’m fishing on my own, I’ll sit on the bank and watch the water flow over the rocks, through the riffles, and into the pools for a few minutes before I wet my flies. It seems to put everything into perspective for me and it enhances my overall experience for the day. Fly fishing can only be fully appreciated if we keep an eye on the big picture and don’t lose sight of the art, and the purpose it serves for us in our lives.

Every fish should be looked at as special in our eyes, whether it’s a wild parred up juvenile trout or a mature lunker enjoying the last remaining years of it’s life. We can’t all have big wild fish and blue ribbon trout streams. Sometimes we have to settle for crowded subpar trout water with stocked fish. If you’re going through a phase where you’re feeling numb and unexcited about your catches, stay at home. You’re better off letting someone else enjoy and respect the fish until you can get your head right. It’s made a world of difference for me, and I’m back to appreciating and feeling like I just started fly fishing again.

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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9 thoughts on “Sunday Classic / Don’t Let Yourself Get Numb to the Reward

  1. I feel you man. It’s easier than most might think for this to happen. For me, I’ve found that fishing the same place, catching the same fish, over and over can give you that numb feeling. With each catch you’re less excited. It’s just another trout on the line. It’s almost ridiculous at times. I’ve held trout in my hands and thought, “man, I can’t think of anyone that wouldn’t be stoked to catch this fish”. But there I am just kind of… Blah. Feeling kind of like an ass for not being more excited. I too remember my first trout. It was a 10″ rainbow on Fightingtown Creek. It came up and slammed a sz10 stimi and it was freakin awesome! When I find that I’ve lost that loving feeling for my trout, I know it’s time to take a break. Whether its changing up locations, or trying a new piece of water I’ve never fished, or focusing on another species for a while. This year it’s been the latter, and I’ve been focusing more on stripers over the past 6-8 months. It’s a nice little break from trout fishing, and its a helluva lot of fun!

  2. Louis, I am not successful enough at flyfishing to hit this point, but your post hit home anyway. This numbness is available to anybody not appreciating the gift of the day they are experiencing. Thanks for the reminder. And thanks for some fun fishing trips.

  3. I have just come out of a stage like this . After having a great autumn and winter I just seemed to lose my mojo and even started to feel numb in its place , it started with a few quiet days , like the fish knew I didn’t deserve to play the game. I started to feel ” not fussed ” about the couple that would come to hand and that was followed by days of blanks. Then mentally I wasn’t in it , started getting pissed after a few blank days , then feeling unappreciative of where I was and what I was doing. Later on would be guilty of how I was feeling. The numbness continued until I had one brilliant day , without even sighting let alone landing a fish. Next day on the water was good and felt like I had my mojo back , casting the first dries of the season after three months of indicator fishing . Halfway through the day I nailed a slabby little brown on a sweet first cast of a tail on a little size 18 I’ve been working on all winter. The numbness was cleansed away finally and I realised again its not about how well you catch fish , but how well you do not. Keep up the good work love gink and gasoline!

  4. Excellent thoughts. I try to hit different waters all over the northeast. Different spots helps with keeping it feeling “fresh”. But it never gets old catching most likely the same fish in the creek out back, and I truly hope it never does. Fishing is what clears my head, the day it starts making me think about why I’m out there doing it, I’ll be a hurting unit.

  5. Being late to the sport and up in years, I may never fish enough or in enough places to struggle with this, but I can imagine how it can happen. As a client who relies on great guides to help me have the great experiences (numbers of fish, large fish, new species, etc.) I greatly appreciate your work and your willingness to face and overcome this challenge!

  6. My cure for 12 inch rainbow malaise was to take the fly rod to other waters and fish for other species. Stripers, bass, pickerel, and other (often bigger) fish are worthy fly quarry and will make you appreciate the trout and their scenic habitats more when you give them a break and try something new.

  7. As always, … well said, Kent. Sometimes the joys we get from being on the water are in the details that we notice, observe and acknowledge — this is especially true when catching smaller juvenile fish. But fly fishing, are you know all too well, isn’t just about the fish that we catch – but where it takes us, the people that it brings into our lives and the experiences that we have.

    Tight lines.


    Mark Greer
    South Jordan, UT

  8. Totally feel that, man. One trick I’ve found is to always be near a newbie. Whether that’s taking him along for the day or showing him around the local fly shop, there’s something invigorating about sharing the love and watching someone get excited with you. Thanks for the post!

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