February 13th, 2006

The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
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It Would Be So Easy
By Paul K. Smith (Gardenfish)

It would be so easy to pull this off. A three piece rod hidden under my clothing, the reel placed unobtrusively in an inside coat pocket. There are a dozen places where nobody would ever know that I had been fishing in any of the many spots not visible from any road or path. I know the river too well to be observed by anyone. I could fish for hours and never see another person, all the while fishing stealth fashion, unseen and unnoticed. It would be so easy. Never have I seen a game warden or any officer of the law on my river. They have too much territory to cover and too few resources. I have seen the rare other person fishing, but never the law. How simple it would be to catch trout and lots of them for hour on end. Easy. No problem.

So as to protect the runs of wild steelhead and salmon the season on my river is rather short, a few days shy of five months. One cannot purposefully fish for those anadromous fish although I tied into one last year (who knows if it was a salmon or a steelhead?) and it bent the hook of my soft hackle and almost pulled my three weight out of my hands. No, I am seeking the rainbows and the cutthroats, those sleek silver chunks of fight and stamina. I know where they are because I have walked the river. Every bend and hole and riffle and pool is in my memory. Every run and rapid and under-bank cut are there as well. The coastal cutthroats and rainbows are making a comeback in my river and I want to continue fishing for them. Why wait? I do not want to bide my time until Spring. The end of May is too far away. It would be easy. Hatchery fish are many years gone from the river. Only these wild trout remain to challenge me. They will be hungry as always. I know what they like. I know where they are. I know how to catch them. No one would ever know. How easy is that? I would release them all like I do when the season is open.

The fish in the pond where I angle for bluegills and largemouth bass is not productive in Winter. The water is too cold and the fish are unresponsive. But the river is just right with the rain having caused the feeder steams to flow and the weather to turn cool and crisp. It is just right for trout fishing and it would be so very easy. All I have to do is gather my equipment. I need my hat and waterproof jacket, my rod and reel, and just a few things from my vest that I can store in the jacket pockets. The net will fit inside the jacket, a bit uncomfortable for certain, but I can't be seen with a fishing net. Someone would know what I was planning to do and I cannot have that happen. This must remain my secret, my clandestine outing for the river, my secret game with the trout.

Sometimes I wish that I did not like fly fishing so much. So many fisher folk are fair weather types. The weather turns cooler and they stack their gear in a closet somewhere awaiting the new season opener in the Spring. My gear is always at the ready. My reels are paired with their rods in the combination that seems best to me. There is always plenty of tippet material and I have more than enough leaders. I am ready. All I would have to do is put on my waders and get to the car. I could do this before first light so that no one would see me wearing the waders. It would be difficult to explain why I was wearing them when the fishing season was several months closed. So, I would be careful. I would run down my list of items I needed for the second time, double checking to be certain that I have everything. All that would remain would be to get into the car and drive. How easy is that?

Easy? I would catch fish, many and varied fish, but I would lose myself, my integrity. The spirit of the sport that I carry in my heart would diminish. I would feel guilty for all time and no running riffle or deep blue pool could wash the shame of it out of me. Yes, it would be so easy, so very easy, but it would be so painful, so very painful, so damaging to who I am. And pain caused by wrong action is never easy no matter the fleeting pleasure that caused it.

Good fishing to us all, that is, when the season is upon us and the fishing is easy or even not so easy. ~ Paul K. Smith (Gardenfish)

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