The Good Stuff

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Patagonia Lunch Break Photo by Louis Cahill

Patagonia Lunch Break Photo by Louis Cahill

By Justin Pickett

Don’t Forget To Take In The Good Stuff

We, as fly fishermen, tend to get caught up in the small space that lies between our eyes and the water’s surface. It’s hard not to. That’s what we need to do in order to be successful on the water. Just like your dad told you to “keep your eye on the ball” as a youngster, you keep your eyes trained on your dry fly, or streamer, as you either drift or strip it through the water. You do this because you know the moment you look away is when that mack daddy of a fish is going to bite, and you’ll be too late to set the hook.

Counter intuitive as it can be, sometimes I feel that’s what we need to do. Look away from your fly, from that run, from that daisy chain. Take in the awesomeness of those moments that fly fishing affords us, and the people you experience them with. I’ve been very fortunate to have made it to some amazing fishing destinations in my short time on earth. Both close to home, and the far away exotic. I can tell you about almost every single fish that was caught on most trips, but sadly I couldn’t tell you too much about the gorgeous setting in which that trip took place, or how much fun I had with my best friend while we were there.

Louis Cahill PhotographyAlaska, Bahamas, Florida, Argentina, Smokey Mountains National Park, Yellowstone, Colorado, and Montana. To me, these are destinations synonymous with fly fishing trips with friends and family. But what makes each destination so special and unique? The fish? To an extent, but for the most part I don’t think so. As an example, you can catch rainbow trout in Georgia, just the same as in Colorado. Same methods, similar, if not same, fly patterns, same equipment. I know, I’ve done it. Both Colorado and Georgia rainbows have green backs, a pink stripe, a white belly, and black spots. So what’s the difference? What’s the reason why we drive hundreds of miles down the road and spend our last dollar when we could essentially do the same thing, and catch the same fish in our backyard?

The experience. The beautiful surroundings. The camaraderie. That’s why.

It’s not always just about the fish, folks. We want memories, stories to tell our family, to be able to say, “yeah, I’ve been there and it was awesome”, quality bromance time, and of course the grip and grin selfie posted on Facebook! “Dude, this is totally gonna get 100 likes!”

Life is short, folks. I’m reminded of it every day I clock in at my “grown-up job”.  To me, Life is meant to be lived, and not meant to just go through the motions. When you’re on the water, take it all in. Breathe in the scent of the Hemlocks as you step out of your vehicle. Look out at the horizon and enjoy the sunrise as you step up on the casting deck and get in ready position. Listen to the stream as it babbles its way through a fog-laden mountain range. High five your buddy and enjoy the excitement of an awesome battle won against a wise, old fish.

That’s the good stuff, folks.

Now get off that numb ass of yours and go enjoy what we do!


Justin Pickett
Gink & Gasoline
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6 thoughts on “The Good Stuff

    • Foremost for me was becoming connected with nature. Once that happened, it never really mattered if I caught a fish.

      Just being out there in the wilderness touching it and feeling it all around me was enough. Surrounded by it and just soaking it all in was healing to the heart and soul.

      Imagine if you may… early morning, first light, total silence. So much so that your ears hear nothing other than the thumping of your heart beat…
      Sitting comfortably in my lazy boy type chair of a belly boat with my 8 mm neoprene chest waders keeping my body heat in. Fingers chilled cold from the glacial water contact just moments before.
      I gently circle my flippers in rotation as to turn my body around so as not to disturb or make wake upon the still born lake of glass that lay before me. Closing my eyes, I turn to the East and as my eye lids are brightened with whiteness, I feel the tingling warmth dancing upon my chilled face of the very first warmth of morning rays of sunshine that have just broken through the tree tops of the mountain peak from across the lake. I remain still and soak in and replenish what I am receiving…mentally and physical.

      Scarce has not gone a day that I not think of the Yukon and your tranquil healing waters of splendor and utter beauty. A poor man would not share your wealth, but for I have seen you at your finest and have be enriched by you to the point that nar can I not say but a bad thing about what I did see. I have seen you at your worst and your best. For what I have encountered through fly fishing and being “in” nature has enriched me to tell all of your beauty.
      The many time’s when I was alone in her vastness and glory…she would often surprise me with delights such as just fore mentioned.

      “Nature”…where memories of a life time are made. For myself, I feel that it has brought me closer to God and a deeper awareness of life, and the choices we make in it.
      That moment will forever be etched into my memory of solitude and grace. Being at that one spot, at that one time, all alone and then you showed up in all your wonderment.
      I mean how could one ever forget that.

  1. The first thing I do when I go to a site is to look at the scenery and take it in. It gives me a better feeling that I am in a photograph/movie when I do catch a fish; I can sense that emotion and see all of that as one scene; one frame, but then I was fortunate enough to have been a professional photographer for 35 years so that helps me.

  2. For me it’s about the campfire. Sitting around a blaze after a memorable day fishing, a satisfying meal, favorite libation in hand and swapping lies with some life long friends and some who soon will be. Relaxing and allowing the aches and pains of the day disappear while watching the color of the sky change from bluebird, to peach, to orange and finally black. Then there is the next morning as you crawl out of you sack, with the anticipation of the taste of campfire coffee and bacon & eggs. You can smell the damp cedars with their soft aroma loosened by the morning dew, and watch as the morning fog struggles with the pines on the mountain slopes, as it makes it’s way toward heaven. All these things are what it’s all about. Not just the fish.

  3. Did this very thing 2 days ago. Fished a local spring creek and before changing up flies I decided to just lean on the side of a hill, drink my water eat my cliff bar and just listen. The rushing water, bees buzzing around, the young bulls chasing one another—pure joy to be a part of it.

    Made that next cast way way way better.

  4. Very nice, Justin. Excellent advice. I am guilty of focusing on the fishing and have been for many years. I do try to see the beauty around me and enjoy the ambience and fellowship… I should be better at it than I am at this point. It’s hard to imagine enjoying fishing any more than I do, but your prescription and the commentary here shows a way to take the experience to the next level without any cost whatsoever.

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