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March 6th, 2000

Whatever It Takes
By James Castwell

I watched the guy standing at the base of a dam explain his rig. "This is a regular fly-rod and reel but I have loaded it with monofilament and tied some weight and two little nymphs to the end. I call it 'getting ugly early,' it's the only way to get the flies down fast. A fly line is too thick, the water gets hold of it and the nymphs don't go deep enough."

I wasn't there in person, it was on a Saturday morning TV program and I was fishing vicariously from the relative warmth and safety of my living-room recliner. With coffee in hand, feet propped up and dog alongside, the notion of doing 'whatever it takes' to catch a fine fish got to rattling around in my partially conscious skull. Would I do that? Had I ever done it? Did I ever even want to do it?

I do know what I prefer to do these days; dry fly, upstream. So, am I better than him? More 'refined?' Has my evolution taken me to a 'higher plateau?' I don't think so. Simply after many years of fly-fishing I am more willing to only do that which I most prefer. Not as flexible as I once was perhaps. As I have gained experience have I lost anything? Maybe I have. The guy on TV had a great time and landed a dandy rainbow. But for me, is that all it is about? Nope. The catching, playing and landing of a fine trout is not enough for me anymore.

To be exact, I would feel guilt. Real guilt. I wouldn't want anyone to see me even if they didn't know me. I have crossed the line. Once crossed, there is no going back. When it happened I don't know. No particular event. No one thing happened. It's just the way it is now, and it makes me a bit jealous at times. I can no longer enjoy all the aspects of fly-fishing.

Maybe I have become a snob. If I have become one, it was not by intent. My problem now is this. I have no idea of how to keep you from having it happen as well. All I can do is tell you how it is for me. I know a lot of guys who still enjoy, yes, really enjoy all methods of fly-fishing. They use nymphs up and down stream, spinning gear, bait when necessary and love it all. To them, 'Hats off,' I'm glad they can do it. I have been there but somehow it slipped away from me. I think most of us may have come up through those ranks.

Because of how things are now, I fish far less for trout. There is simply not the opportunity for dry-fly work. It does take less time to tie flies, no nymphs. Sure, I still fish streamers for salmon and sinking shrimp flies for bonefish when I can, but the old 'upstream-and-dry' is always the only thing I consider as fly-fishing, real fly-fishing.

I do notice things more these days though which I didn't years ago. As the 'child-like' wonder of it all was slowly replaced by knowledge and experience the vacuum was filled with esthetics of the environment. Stewardship for all I experience was enhanced at the same time. So now it is not just fishing. It's all of it. The magic of just going, being there and becoming part of it.

Warm sun on my face like a cheek-puffed ground squirrel on a bright spring day. A birds flight or call, or both. Wild-flowers, a meadow-skipper, frogs, tree-stumps, mushrooms, skunk-cabbage in a bog, little things on a trail, a nap under the cedars, smells, sounds, pussy-willows, shooting-stars during an evening spinner fall, bats over a moonlit riffle, fish on a redd, reading stream temperatures, birds working a mating flight, the excitement of turning over rocks and looking for ready-to-hatch nymphs Mike Croft art and sharing it all with someone I love. Little things are no longer overlooked or taken for granted.

These are the threads which make up the warp of a fishing day for me. It's not the just the fishing, not the catching, it's being where it happens. Fish live in beautiful places, I like to go there. 'Whatever it takes' is not for me, if ever it was. I want more than that, I think I always have. ~ JC

Till next week, remember ...

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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