Outdoor Writers Association of America
Northwest Outdoor Writers Association
This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

February 16th, 1998

Love the One You're With

"When I'm with the one I'm with, I love the one I'm with." Or so says an old song. The same applies to fly fishing. When I'm standing on a lovely trout stream with bugs in the air and sipping trout in the water I couldn't think of anywhere I would rather be.

Or waist-deep in the salt, casting to elusive Pacific Salmon I hope will be there ... another ball game entirely. But when I'm there I couldn't think of doing anything else.

Two different worlds.

How fortunate to have lived in places where trout were plentiful and co-operative. And to have learned the techniques and casting requirements to be successful.

Then we moved to the Pacific Northwest. Trout and resident insects are not plentiful. We stopped fly fishing. It was not that there are no trout. There are a few rivers (mostly steelhead rivers) and lots of lakes. But what we were used to, and loved, was moving water with a good trout population. Certainly not available close to home or that easily accessible.

So we became fish-less in Seattle. Until a local fly-shop owner talked me into teaching a fly casting class with him. I did not own a fly rod larger than a 6 weight. That would not do, he insisted, and I became the owner of a G Loomis 7wt. IMX. I also did not know how to double haul. Another requirement.

Eventually my husband, JC, and I were fully outfitted for the salt, and were out there casting with the best of them. And we caught salmon. It is not the same as trout fishing, but it has it's own rewards.

Saltwater fish are larger, faster, and stronger than their freshwater cousins. And while our possible 'catch' is not as varied as it would be in warm water, it is exciting.

What brings this to mind, is the-yet-another exposure to saltwater fly fishing we had on our recent trip. We had spent a week or so in the Bahamas, at Deep Water Cay chasing bonefish. Wind, and cold weather did limit our success. Bonefishing is similiar to dry fly fishing, in that you are sight fishing. Presentation and stealth do count. It's a neat experience.

But once back in Floridia, we had an invitation to fish with Captain Scott Hamilton. Some of you may recognize the name from an article he did for FAOL on fly fishing for snook. (Scott is also known to visit the Chat Room as BlueH2OFly.)

I must admit, I am a bit of a snob. Fly fishing in my mind is small rods, floating lines and dry flies. The saltwater salmon fishing we do really doesn't quite qualify as fly fishing. After all, we use sink-tip lines, and very big wet flies. So why do I do it? Because it is FUN!

Well, time for some more education! Now we are talking really big rods 12 weight and even bigger, very wet flies. And you know what? We had a blast! Scott is a terrific guide, gentleman, infinitely patient, and a superb boatman.

And we caught fish. Beautiful big Jacks. Fighting, running, tear-your-gear- up fish. We had doubles on at least twice. Scott directed the action, boated and released the fish and smiled on cue for photos. What a trip!

It is fly fishing? Well, we used fly rods, fly lines, and flies. The variety of fish available was huge. It for me, was the best part of the trip.

Am I hooked on fishing warm saltwater? You bet! More than my local cold salt water? Well not when I'm here. Does it replace trout fishing? Of course not. But ... and this is the big one, as fly fishers we have wonderful opportunities to fish for a variety of fish in lots of places. I don't mean just the trip of a lifetime to warm exotic places, or the trek to Alaska for record salmon either.

How many varieties of fish do you have locally, or within comfortable driving distances you have not fished for? Are there nasty, toothy fish out there that would give you one heck of a fight? How about smaller lake fish? Or pan fish?

Expand your world. Learn new techniques. Find new challenges. You could be missing some great fun. ~ LadyFisher

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