There was a time when the beautiful cedar
lined Au Sable (soft 'a') of Michigan's lower
peninsula had Grayling in it, so many they even
named a town Grayling. The town prospered during
the lumbering era and lumbering wiped out the
Grayling. Now there are no more Grayling and
no more lumbering. But there is still trout
fishing for browns and brookies, I know, I did
a lot of it in the 50's and 60's. The main
road was not paved when I first started fishing
In years even earlier travel was not as easy
and most fly fishers stayed a little closer
to home. Some spent years learning the foibles
of their 'home waters.'
Not much exists like that these days. Travel
is nearly unlimited for many. Fly gear is
fantastic compared to much of what was in
normal use in the earlier part of our century.
Save a few bucks, hop a flight and fish tonight
almost anywhere your heart desires. This changes
Fly fishing, in the past, was for many a method
of procuring fish, namely trout. Most streams
had a surplus and eating your catch was not
considered a slip in moral and ethical judgement.
The availability of written information was sparse
then too. Many things had not yet been learned,
and if were, had not yet been reduced to print.
Fishing was based a lot more on hope.
Hope the inexpensive bamboo rod did not break.
Hope your line did not sink and your leader did
not break and your boots did not leak and your
flies did not sink unless they were supposed to.
Hope has away of generating a delightful degree
of anticipation and eagerness. Sometimes when we
know too much about a thing we take all of the
mystery out of it. Like the magician when he
reveals the trick. When we have confidence in
a particular fly that worked well last week or
last month or last year we use a different set
of rules and tactics.
Really now, just how much fun would it
be if you knew exactly what insect the
trout were eating, exactly what time of
day they ate them, and you had a box full
of them? Right, too easy, too simple, no
challenge, no fun.
So how did some of us get this way? How did
we learn 'too' much? Have many of us learned
too much about the bugs, the when and where,
what gear to use and how and when? Sometimes
we have. One of the reasons we go to other
places to fish. Worse yet, we are in such a
hurry to learn it all and as fast as we can,
we hire a guide.
Well, that takes the mystery out of it in
a hurry. Fun? Oh, sure it is. And we do not
have the time to learn all of it by ourselves
and if we want to catch anything at all we
need a guide. But, we don't have to do that
at home. Do we?
Can we put a higher value on the 'mystery'
of fly fishing? Like reading a good book
slowly to make it last. Some can do that,
some can't. The real enjoyment of fly fishing
is not always in the tonnage of fish, but in
learning the myriad of things necessary to
pull it off. And valuing each and every step
along the path. Maybe to just fish a fly for
the hell of it, just because it looks...'buggy.'
It's been said that "Fly-fishing is a lot like
life; those who finish first are not the winners." ~ JC