Looking back over this past year, I realized that I have been blessed to be able to do more fishing than I have in a long time. Water has always been my happy place, whether it be floating a river, or swimming in a lake. I have been on several different waters, each one bringing different types of happiness. So what have I learned through this year’s adventures?
First, I have learned that it doesn’t matter a whole lot to me how I catch a fish, there is always excitement that comes from finding that a fish took the bait that you offered. It feels like a form of acceptance, like I did something right. It’s surprising how satisfying that feeling can be.
This year I have hooked several very large lake trout. They can be heavy and challenging to bring in, or they can be smaller with more fight and still challenging to land. I have caught bass, and they offer a different type of fight. Maybe not as exciting as trout, but are fun to bring in and then send back out in the water. So far I have not met a fish I didn’t like.
All in all though trout remain my very favorite fish to catch. The surprise that you can feel in them when they realize they’ve been hooked and try to fight their way off the line makes bringing them in so much fun. Although these fish may be a bit smaller, the excitement they bring in a catch outweighs the bigger fish by far in my mind.
I am not a fishing snob, I like fishing in all forms. But there is a whole new level of excitement that I get from catching a fish on my fly rod. I don’t know whether it is because it is a bit more challenging, or it is the raw feeling of stripping in a fish by the fly line, but it brings on a feeling of accomplishment that I haven’t found in many other places. It makes you pay attention to your surroundings, find what is hatching, perfect your presentation, watch your fly. I have a short attention span, I like recasting often, watching for the moment to set the hook, being attentive and mindful while at the same time disconnecting from the rest of the world.
No matter the size of the fish, there is a connection you feel with a fish while landing it, holding it gently while snapping a few photos, then carefully reintroducing it into the water so that it can swim home. Even if I experience a epic fish flop it is one of the most edifying experiences I can have on the water.
It gives me a whole new respect for our natural resources. It affords me the chance to feel my connection with the earth. It helps me to escape from whatever is happening in my day-to-day life for a while. And it gives me a chance to spend a day outside in the wild hiding from stress and responsibilities. It offers a fantastic opportunity for family connections.
I have many more fish I want to catch; on the rivers like salmon, and on the ocean. There are trips to plan on both new waters and familiar waters. There are hours to be spent both alone and with family. I can’t think of many better ways to spend my free time, and I am excited to see what 2017 will bring my way.