For Our Future

by Timothy,

I love the fisherman’s high. At a very young age I was lucky enough to have a father who took me fishing and a mother who supported my outdoor endeavors. Some of my fondest memories are set within casting distance of a body of water. As a result, I have grown with an appreciation of the outdoors and nurtured qualities such as those that a fisherman would have. I grew patience waiting for a bite, respect when handling a fish, and, most important of all, a desire to show others why I love what I do.

This is not just a fishing story or how-to or wistful musings from times of old. This is a plea from a member of the next generation to show all of us, fisherman or not, your secrets, values, and passion.

I am a young man born and raised in Colorado who knows all too well other addictive mediums that kids in my age group use. They look for some sort of escape or fulfillment in their lives that they have trouble finding. Some end up glued to television screens and game controllers living viscerally through their online persona. They fall out of touch with their real lives and lose knowledge of what lives they could lead. Some end up plastering their faces on social media to find personal satisfaction in stranger’s comments and “likes”. Others still will resort to violence and misbehavior for the excitement and attention gleaned from overt acts. All end up detached from the outdoors as a personal outlet.

One of my close friends, prior to taking him fishing, told me, “My parents say that we’re a hotel family.” He was not young, not poor, not disabled. His family came down a long line of “hotel people” and he was set on a path that life, modern life, has handed to him. All his life lead to believe that going fishing is boring and when you go you never catch anything anyway so why bother. His few trips, to no one’s fault, were done in ignorance. Wrong bait, wrong tackle, wrong place, wrong time, throwing rocks, swimming dogs the list is endless.

Well on our trip, he went with a fisherman. Now he ties the rigs and baits the hooks that catch the fish he’s looking for. One trip. The birth of a fisherman. Now he has actually experienced the fulfilling sport of fishing and asks me to take him more. Now the problem is that although I have showed him our sport I cannot always be there to support his growth. His parents do not take him and his family does not fish so that it falls to me to give him the opportunities to make more memories. On another note, he has told more friends about his experience and they want to go as well. I do not have the time nor the money to stage a one man movement to teach the world to fish.

As much as I would like to live my life abiding by the rules of the old proverb (see below) I cannot do this alone. I know that I was born fortunate, into an outdoor oriented family, and had many positive experiences and opportunities to form them. Others are not and will never be given this chance.

Some fish for different reasons, by different means, holding different values, but residing in the core of all of us lies the hook for a hobby that can last a lifetime.

Believe me when I say that among my age group, rare it truly is to see a fisherman. Not one who “has been fishing before” but one who fishes for life. I see it in the midst of fishing trips. All those I see are mostly grown-men, many who are aging and grew up in a time when the outdoors was synonymous with everyday life.

In today’s culture we see a trend where living inside is safer or more normal than spending time outside. This being the case, I see that fishing is a very powerful catalyst for getting someone outside and them growing a fondness for being there.

To me, fishing is much more than catching fish or competing for size or eating everything on the end of the line. If that’s why you fish, more power to you. However, I fish for memories.

Years from now I will not remember the time I spent watching T.V. or playing call of duty. There was a time I heavily did. I will remember the evening with my father when we had an elk herd run in front of the car, illuminated by just our headlights and the slowly rising sun. I will remember the smile on my friend’s face fighting a huge fish all on his own and holding it up for his victorious picture. I will remember, and appreciate, my mother driving me to and from lakes and ponds many times at the drop a hat and always asking me, “Did you have fun?” This is because I do have fun, and I want to show others the same.

The success and growth of these values relies on the “breeding” of more fishermen. If they are not born, fishing will not live. It is in my humblest opinion that we are endangered, and it is solely up to us to save our bloodlines.

Take someone fishing. Sacrifice some of your time and grow the roots for the future of our sport.

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

In both body and soul.

Lessons From a Hookless Fly

by Timothy

Usually, at least for me, holding the fish is the point where the high from fighting it begins to wane. The heart thumping excitement from hook-set and tight lines is what really gets the adrenaline going.

Now, I wouldn’t portray myself as a meat hunter, but I’m not a puritan either in that I use barbed hooks and seldom pinch it down. There are times however, that the situation would appropriate a barbless hook.

On a past trip to the mountains I stood on the edge of a flirting, diamond-clear lake. I bent to slowly run my fingers through the water and watched the ripples spread throughout, shaking leaves that had sailed on unseen currents until my disruptive arrival.

My careful eye focused through the water and looked for the telltale signs of life. A shadow here, a flash there.

The mocking breeze muffled the clarity of the water's surface and I stood up, confident in the information I had gathered.

Like a sprinter taking in his last breath, I stilled mine and focused on the ghosting fog over the water’s surface. I inhaled the light air that swirled around me and took a moment to enjoy the scenery, drinking in the cool morning persona of the mountains.

Drawing upon this energy, I focused my attention on a submerged tree stump 30 feet out from my place on land. Out of respect for the land I was about to fish, I opted to pinch down the barb on my fly, a Copper John, and did so prior to tying it on.

The first few casts resulted in nothing; no telltale twitch in the line. I didn’t worry however, it only takes a single trout to come cruising by and let its curiosity test my fly.

I fell into the rhythm of fan casting. Starting off to the left of the stump and working my way right, I fished the fly slowly in steady pulls interspersed with quick frantic jerks and long pauses to let the fly sink into the blue depths.

While this patient vigil kept on, it was hard not to notice the environment- the great birds soaring overhead on unseen currents not unlike those that are formed in the water. The frantic splash of trout chasing after caddisflies. Great mountains mirrored on the lake's surface.

The wonder was cut short by the tick-tick-tick gunfire on my rod hand and I set the hook in a sweeping motion so as not to snap my thin tippet. Or rather, I tried to set the hook.

For a few brief moments I felt the weight of the fish and saw the bend of my rod. There was enough time to get my heart pumping before the hook came free and snapped up out of the water.

To be frank, I was sincerely perplexed.

Not often does it happen that my opponent gets the better of me. Especially with the relatively small size of fish that swam this lake.

Bad hook-set.

I silently berated my beginner folly.

Casting out a few more times, I managed a second chance.

I failed.

Every step of the process was perfectly aligned for me to land this fish and yet the same thing occurred. Twice in a row!?

I knew that it wasn’t a product of snapping the fly off on my hook-set because my fly was still on the rod after each failure.

I decided to pass it off on my strike being too early and tried once more to catch a fish.

By this time my heart was positively hammering! The fish were there and indeed biting, so I was excited by the prospect of catching a large amount of these beautiful Brook Trout.

Third time's the charm. I hope.

A few casts later, indeed I hooked up again. The rod bent, the silver flank flashed, the heart skipped, my breath caught, time slowed down, and…

The hook flew out into the clouds.

Needless to say I was reduced to a crying mess. Three fish in a row I missed. No way is it me. Too many missed chances.

My fly, the Copper John - The curved nature of the hook defines its purpose, to get caught in the prey’s mouth thereby trapping it on line to rod. 
I reeled in all the coiled and slacked line on shore and inspected the fly. It appeared that I had snapped the very tip of the hook off, right after the bend. So, there was just enough bend left to lodge for a few moments into the fish’s mouth- the few moments that made me think my hook-set was at fault.

I learned a valuable lesson that fateful day on the bank of that lake; be gentle and respectful to the tools you use no matter how excited you are to use them.

Timothy is a regular contributor at My Hunting & Fishing. He is also an author at TheOutLife.

Lakeside Lessons

by Timothy

We'd wake up in the morning at the barest hinting of light filtering in through the window. A groggy, half-asleep morning would ensue trying to remember how to put on shoes and swallow cereal. This was how my fishing trips always started as a young boy. A late night of getting ready followed by an early morning of putting together the last pieces of the trip ahead of us. After breakfast, my head would begin to fill with all the questions fishermen ask themselves.

"What would we catch? Would we catch? Where? How?"

Slowly, the stupor would be replaced with excitement that would grow with each bump in the road.
The lake was a pristine jewel sitting high in the Rocky Mountains boasting healthy and plentiful rainbow trout populations. Ringed all-around with steep slopes and thick, green foliage, it was one of the only areas relatively untouched by the wrath of pine beetles that continue to ravage the pine tree forests.

This place was magic to the free-ranging adventurer in me. I would walk off and shake scuds from a mop of weeds and throw them out to cruising trout as if I was throwing a dinner party for all my aquatic friends. Bored with that, I began climbing the steep hills with rope that became my lifeline and sticks that became my snow axes, burying them in sand to pull myself upon footholds I dug out of the mountains. 

After my journey, I'd look down at the stoic position of my father that he always assumed. Back straight, arms crossed. Focused. Taking a moments reprieve would inevitably lead me to look out across the watery distance. Frozen in the eye of the basilisk, the lake inspired within me stories of self-awareness and reliance. I felt as if Robinson Crusoe, looking upon his island paradise and contemplating the treasures and horrors it would hold. Wallowing in the feel of the wild was one of the greatest moments on these trips, the other was catching a fish.

Upon the return to my father, I was always greeted with stories of fish he had already caught and it never ceased to light a fire in my little frame.

I had to catch one too. 

Mustering up all the skills I had, I'd spear a worm on a number six barbed hook, spin on a bobber, cast, sit, and wait. Somewhere along the lines, my parents had been able to instill the fisherman's patience within me. I'd go the way of my father. Silent, brooding, focused. Ordinarily, not much was said between us on these trips. That is, of course, because there was not much to be said in the way of discourse while caught in the connection of rod, life, and line.

Daydreaming in this state came naturally. The warm sun and gentle breeze permeated my skin. The lullaby of water lulled me into a trance. Still however, the reflection of the bright red bobber bounced off my pupil as I waited for a fish. I knew they would come. The distance was just right, the depth of the bait dangled in their nose, and my line was tight just like my father taught me to do for a firm hook set.

The lone, red bobber danced on miniature waves and would periodically be submerged by the rolling water. The muscles in my arm tensed with every out of place jolt.

It's under!

Lightning quick, I snatch out the rod from its bed on the shore reeds and reel up the slack in the line. A snap of my wrists buries the hook in the fishes cavernous maw and it's fish on. Even during this moment, the atmosphere of introspection was not over. My blood pulsed quicker and the prospect of landing the fish comes forefront to the mind.

Lift, reel, lift, reel the cadence of muscle memory ensured the fish was mine.
Gently holding it in wide-eyed wonder there was primal happiness in the moment. I, a fellow creature, had ensnared another organism based on ingenuity left to me by my ancestors. I loved that feeling. I still do.

For me, these trips were less about moments in time, and more about lessons in life.

The Boys are Learning How to Fish

One of several rainbow trout in the 8 - 11 inch range caught at Foster Reservoir, near Sweet Home, Oregon on April 30, 2016. It was a beautiful day and the fishing was great! 

I was proud to see that the boys are starting to take on some of the fishing tasks on their own. Maybe some day in the future I will actually be able to relax when I take them fishing. Ha!

Tight Lines!

More Fishing at Foster 2016

Had a great day at Foster Reservoir on April 9, 2016. We caught our limits of trout in the 8 - 10 inch range.

Tight Lines!

More Popular Posts