Why Are We Out There?

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Photo by Louis Cahill

Photo by Louis Cahill

By Kyle Wilkinson

It’s a question as old as this great sport. Why do we fly fish?

Why do we make the sacrifices—whether it be time away from family, perhaps less money in your bank account, the risk of possible injury (I could go on)—just to catch a fish and let it go?

Now, I don’t typically do this sort of thing but I had a guide trip the other day that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about since. And trust me, I’m not trying to sound all preachy or holier-than-thou in the paragraphs to come. Like I said, this day has simply remained on my mind.

I had a 3-person guide trip with a good, repeat customer of mine.  Our destination was the Dream Stream section of the South Platte and the group consisted of a father/son duo, and the father’s friend.  As seems to be a resounding theme in Denver, the son lives here and his dad/his dad’s friend were in visiting from the Midwest.

We met up early and hit the river. Both dad/son are good anglers, however the dad’s friend had never touched a fly rod. (which happens to be one of my favorite customers to be dealt). I got him up to speed and within the first 5 minutes we were staring at a chunky 18” rainbow wiggling in the net. This was his first fish ever on a fly rod and we were all excited!  As the day went on, he brought many more fish to the net, however none eclipsed the 18” mark. As a result, every time he hooked a fish and realized it was smaller (we’re talking 10-16” here) he would utter something along the lines of, “welp, looks like its just more bait again” (with an apparent hint of boredom/distaste in his mouth).

Meanwhile, every time the other two customers caught a fish it didn’t seem to matter how big they were—the excitement level was cranked up to level 10 and even I found myself getting way more excited about a 12” fish than I had in a long time. We caught a lot of fish ranging from 8-18” that day but you would have thought they were all trophies. Standing in the South Platte River, with the place basically to ourselves, surrounded by beautiful scenery in all directions, with a father/son who live a thousand miles apart—I think it’s safe to say in reality—they were.

So my point with all this then, in case you’re wondering,

is to encourage us all next time we’re out on the water to take a moment, take a deep breath, look around, and really take time to appreciate the opportunity before us. My customers that day were the perfect example of this and it was just simply awesome to be a part of.

The way I see it, that’s why we’re all out there to begin with anyway. Not one person reading this tried fly fishing for the first time and then went back a second time looking for the biggest fish in the river.  We went back because fly fishing was fun and if you’re anything like me, you celebrated every catch. Don’t get me wrong, big trout are great and I still want to put as many of them in the net as possible.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this either.  One thing I can assure you, though, that I’m going to do moving forward is to celebrate and appreciate every fish in a much better way. Doing this just gave me one of the best days on the water I’ve had in a long time. I’m confident it will do the same for you as well.

Kyle Wilkinson
Gink & Gasoline
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9 thoughts on “Why Are We Out There?

  1. Those of us who are fortunate enough to be able to fish often should add even more joy to their daily life! ANY catch is a gift from the Universe.
    That we have this wonderful pastime and hobby that lets us be with nature and in the most beautiful places created, through out the seasons, is an added reason to give thanks every day that we wake up!
    Don’t take anything for granted. Live every moment, well.

    • You should check-out Billy Joel’s song “Stiletto”. Imagine that the song is about our fishing ventures to technical fisheries.(the Blue,the Platte, the Pan ect…) The result is quite entertaining. I was reminded of it by this article as the themes are similar.

      • I liked the analogy. Mother Nature can be one Bad Mama!

        It’s been along time since I listened to “52nd Street”.

    • i absolutly love every day i spend on the water!doesn’t matter how many fish or what size,i’m adry fly guy who only fish flies i tie just love rising fish!!

  2. Amen, Kyle. Every fish is a wonder if your head is screwed on right and your heart and soul are always accessible. But the same can be said for life… today on Memorial Day I sat on the back deck of my cabin with my wife of 47 years eating a lemon ice. Pure bliss.

  3. So many reasons beyond size to value a fish as special. The fish you work your tail off for, the fish that almost catches itself, the one where you risk and win, the one that bests you, the surprise…

    An evening this week on a TN wild stream blessed me with a different challenge every 20 yards: hefty fish stacked up and pounding stimulators, selective adolescents in skinny water on emergers, juveniles jumping with abandon for Hendricksons, an unexpected brookie where they aren’t supposed to be.

    Each made me more grateful that I get to fish.

    “Enjoy every sandwich.” – the late Warren Zevon

  4. Some people enjoy the journey and others, the destination.

    I have a friend that I would say is a destination kind of person; he gets all excited when we are traveling to fish but once we get there he only fishes the easiest waters, those accessible to anyone. He is always disappointed that he doesnt do that well in numbers, and every time I try to convince him to move up or down stream or go to another part of the lake and try other areas, he refuses.

    Personally I am a journey type of guy: I enjoy tying the flies, altering their design slightly and going to fly shops & craft stores looking for new and different materials to try. I enjoy the driving to our fishing areas and sometimes take a different way just to see if there are other fishable areas on the way.

    I enjoy seeing the muskrat, mink, beaver, deer and blue herons that share the water with me and I try really hard not to disturb them if at all possible. There are places that I fish that hold only small fish, but there are a bunch of them; and other places hold nice specimens of the species I am targeting. It is always a thrill to trick a fish into thinking my hunk of fur, feather or foam is something good to eat.

    Fishing is like everyday life, some days are better than others…but they are all worth experiencing. Rob

  5. My ” why” is to improve. Recently I have been trying to get better at Striper fishing with a bucktail jig. When I trout fish I am currently curious about nymphing techniques.
    I believe every angler has their own “why”. Going forward as our resources and access come under increasing pressure it will be great if we had more appreciation and respect of the other guys “why”. Ideally surfcasters, fly guys, offshore fisherman, bass and carp anglers, etc can come together with one loud voice. To the degree we don’t we diminish our influence.

  6. Pingback: Story: Why Are We Out There | MidCurrent

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