This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

January 17th, 2005

Picture This

I was feeling overworked and under appreciated the other day and my husband JC, also known as Castwell, offered to take me out to dinner. I declined, but later thought better of it and changed out of my grungies to some decent clothes, washed my face and brushed my hair and we headed to a reasonably new Asian restaurant which we've been to a few times. The lady at the counter informed us as we headed toward the dining area they no longer had a menu and you had to choose your meal from the grill. Since I wanted a particular menu item, we left.

As we walked to the car, we discussed what had just happened. Our conclusions, ordering off the menu required more employees, more food, more costs. Bottom line? There were no other customers in the place. It was 6:30 p.m. on a Wednesday. They won't make it until spring. We were willing to give the new place our business, we had not had dinner there, but we had stopped there for lunch on occasion.

There is a very good Mexican restaurant next door, but we weren't hungry for Mexican food. So we drove a few blocks to another Asian place we knew and had a very good dinner.

For the most part we have a lot of choices here for a small community - not everyone is lucky enough to live where they have any choices. However, we no longer have a fly shop here in town at all. There is one down in Silverdale about 10 miles away, and one in Bainbridge also about 10 miles. Which is better than many communities. One of the reasons we don't have a fly shop here is mostly we don't have any fish, but that's another story - and I'm not going there right now.

The shop in Silverdale is more of what we call a 'cross-over' shop. They carry spinning rods, boat rods and fly fishing rods. Gear rods for the folks who troll for salmon, and even 'snoopy' rods for kids. I'm sure there's some 'sticker stock' when the spinning rod guys see some of the prices on fly rods, but nothing like the reaction of the guys in the south who fish for bream, redears and gills. About half of this country doesn't have any trout within a reasonable drive. Are we just going to ignore them? Seems to me that's what's been going on in the fly fishing world for a long time. (We don't here at FAOL in case you haven't been paying attention.)

"$500 for a fly rod to catch 8 inch gills? You've got to be out of your mind!"

Well, think about it. How about a $500 rod to catch 8 inch trout? Isn't that the truth? Do you really think most of what is caught is 18 inch trout and 15 pound steelhead?

I wrote something on the Bulletin Board last week 'off hand' about maybe that's why fly fishing is in trouble. Fly fishing isn't in trouble at all - but some of the business side of fly fishing is. Some of it is too many fly shops in a region, poor management, attitude or service, and competition by the 'big box' stores.

My personal opinion is a great deal of the marketing done by manufacturing companies, the RBFF (Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation) the folks who spend the bucks you pay in the excise tax, has been so far off the mark it is laughable. Add to that the attitude of the gurus who dream up the ads showing beautiful gals groomed to the teeth with perfect everything showing off fish you absolutely know they didn't catch ...well, you get the drift.

Maybe the rod companies would do better to show some guy with rolled up sleeves wading wet showing off his prize bream. Opps. Did I a say a bad word?

Where are the new fly fishers coming from?

Well, it's not from women is it? That was a bust, no pun intended. A big push for 'families' - and outside of fly fishers who already 'get it' isn't happening either. In some regions the big deal is carp fishing! Not everyone can afford the big ticket trips for bonefish, much less the off-shore blue water trips. Carp are fun. Why not? I've heard some of the rod and reel companies haven't figured out yet the sales of the 8 and 9 weight outfits are not being used for trips to the Bahamas or Belize. But I suppose it might hurt their corporate image to have a carp in their catalog. I do remember a time when bonefish were considered bait for billfish, and trashfish otherwise.

Where it is happening is the spin fishers who have found ultra light, and then decide to see what other ways there might be to have fun.

Have fun?

Isn't that what fly fishing is about? Having fun?

It's about having choices!

How many of you came to fly fishing via spin fishing? Maybe via the ultra light route? Ring any bells?

I've always felt fly fishing was about having fun...not about how snazzy it was to catch a particular 'type' of fish. If it pulls, and I get to pull back that's fun. If sometimes it pulls harder than I do, or smarter, or faster, that's all part of the game. Do I lose fish? (Naw, well occasionally.) Sure I do - the fish I lose I probably remember better than ones I catch - and the truth be known I've killed some I wish I hadn't.

Some of our readers have had an opportunity to fish in almost every state in the US. I haven't. If I did I would fish for whatever fish there were to fish for. No turn up the nose and say, well, gee, you don't have trout? Duh.

I'd love to see one of the big name rod companies come out with an absolutely killer catalog before the next Denver Fly Tackle Dealer Show with a terrific cover shot of their best fly rod and a smallmouth bass (or bluegill) and one very happy fly fisher.

Think anyone will do it? ~ DLB

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