Ladyfisher
This Week's View

by Deanna Birkholm

February 12th, 2001

Predictable?



If you fish the same places time after time you really begin to know where the fish are, and the weather and water changes that cause variations in your chances of catching. Time of day or year also impact the fishery. Eventually the results of your trip are pretty predictable - well, mostly. I don't want to say it can be too predictable, but let's say the sense of adventure as we first found it in fly fishing is gone.

One summer morning Castwell and I sat on the bank of the South Branch of the Au Sable in Michigan, completely geared for a specific hatch - we had been planning on it for days. Instead of that hatch, we hit something entirely different. We had the match for them, we chose not to fish. We didn't want to play that game. We sat there and just watched. Not bad at all, sometimes we learn more by watching than we do by fishing.

Everyone has their own, very personal reasons for fishing. Somewhere on that list for me is the knowledge that I will never learn everything. I may figure out a hatch or two and be able to do all the right things to produce fish on the end of my line - but that sure doesn't mean I can repeat the same thing in any other place - even on the same hatch. Once you pack up your rod and move somewhere else, everything changes!

Maybe that's another secret? Even with a pretty good knowledge base, we can change the game ourselves! I've likened fly fishing to bow hunting or black powder hunting on occasion. The bow hunter could probably obtain a deer faster with a rifle, but he has decided to handicap himself by hunting with a bow. For him the challenge is in the hunt, not the procuring.

Could we catch more or larger fish with bait or lures? That's an interesting point of discussion. In my mind an artful flyfisher can out-fish either - so the ease of catching may not be the point. As fly fishers improve their knowledge and skills they also become pickier on the fish they want to catch. It becomes a true hunt. Read the rise forms, time the rises, read the water. Watch, wait and make the cast. Do we always catch the fish? No, but we do know we can try again. Perhaps with even more insight!

Fishing new water is another variation on the game. For me it is a delight to try and figure out where the fish are, where they hold, their feeding patterns. It is a totally consuming exercise. One I don't take for granted.

Unlike many of our readers, my fishing has been limited to mostly Michigan, Montana and Washington states (include a couple of bonefish trips to the Caribbean) and I've never fished in the east. For me our Annual FAOL Fish-In is a wonderful opportunity to fish new water. Castwell and I really look forward to solving the challenges of new water.

Of course it isn't all about the fish, we do look forward to meeting new folks and seeing old friends too.

I hope you will join us! ~ The LadyFisher

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