Why do we fly fish...
for fun, survival, or what?

Other than for having fun - why would someone fly fish? I'm convinced that there are many reasons.

Why do YOU (WE) go out and fish with a fly rod?

Does it improve your stature in your community?
Does it make you more appealing to women (men)?
Does it earn you discounts at the bank?
Does it afford you relaxation that your (legal) drugs won't?
Does it give you an excuse to visit many beautiful places?
Does it give you a raison d'etre?
Does it get you away from your wife?
Do you like inflicting damage on defenseless creatures?
Does it take away your guilt?
Is it a direct result of Insanity?
Does it connect you with the "in" crowd?
Does it help others?
Does it allow you to catch gather food?
Does it help with resource management?
Does it help give you the best presentation for fishing?

To this question, there are probably more valid answers than people.

My reason for writing this piece is that my own thoughts were jogged today as I went to fish, and just wear out some of my favorite little water dwelling friends. Is this why I fish?

The reason I considered writing in the first place started back well before 2001. Based on my upbringing, I decided in the late 1990s to try to pass along to other fly fishers some of the things about fly fishing that make it work so well for me. That seems to have worked pretty well. Some of my knowledge and experiences have actually helped fly fishers around the world. For that I'm grateful. I grew up with the idea of when you receive a gift -- try to give back. My gift is a very keen involvement with fish and fly fishing.

At the time when I first built this website I had been feeling EXTREMELY fortunate to have become dialed into fly fishing on a level that I had never experienced before. Once I was able to escape my "weekend warrior" status, things began happening fast, and I came up the massive fly fishing learning curve faster than I could understand. Then one day, fly fishing just made marvelous, simple sense to me. It has ever since. My log book proves it. Sometimes I have so much fun fly fishing that I feel a little twinge of guilt. I have developed various avenues to take away my guilt.

That brings me to the present.

This past week I saw an older fellow sporting full wading fly fishing gear, plying the shallow shelves at a lake I fish from time to time. I observed that he was constantly changing flies -- casting more -- then changing flies again. What I didn't see was his catching any fish.

First I fished below him and caught fish after fish (on the same fly). Then I cut a wide arc and moved uplake well away from and above him and caught fish after fish (on the same fly). Then I proceeded farther uplake and continued to catch fish until I was tired of catching and releasing these guys on a very light 1 weight.

I began to feel guilty about catching all of those fish, while this guy was mostly thrashing water. I had thoughts of inviting him along for a different style of adventure -- one with lots of fish involved. "Tie on fewer flies, probe more water, and catch more fish. That's my idea of fly fishing!" I thought to myself.

At the end of my fishing day while I was heading to shore to trailer my boat I saw him, and said "hello". I asked a very few simple questions and found out that he was a local fly fisher. Well I decided that was the end of my guilt. I don't normally take local fly fishers to water that I frequent. There are many good reasons for that attitude that I won't go into here.

The next time I was on the lake and was about to launch my boat, I saw the wading fly fisher heading toward my truck. We exchanged greetings, and to my surprise he asked me if he could fish with me that morning. That was a first, and my immediate reaction could easily have been no thanks, but I took a chance. After all I'd considered inviting him on a previous trip anyway.

After getting his gear safely stored in my boat, he boarded and I pushed us off. We settled in, grabbed our gear, and I made my first cast. As expected a fat bluegill popped my foam spider on cue.

As I fished and he rigged his rod, we exchanged conversation on a range of things. First I noticed he was fishing a 6 weight. It wasn't long before I had him casting a 1 weight and later a 2 weight. In stark contrast to his previous trips of wading, casting, changing flies, not catching many fish, then repeating the process - this trip was a revelation. We found fish everywhere, caught and released fish everywhere, and literally caught fish the whole trip.

All the while we were exchanging information about professions, life, fly fishing, and shucking fish. Oh, we were wearing out the fish!

How can this experience possibly relate to why we fish?

This fellow, just a few years my senior, had been a hard worker all his life. Obviously an intelligent man, he is an engineer, and finds it difficult if not impossible to get work in his life long profession. At this moment he was not employed. Because he was unemployed he sold off a lot of his fly tackle, but kept enough to still be able to fish. He had no boat, so wading was his option. He was fly fishing to keep from being bored or going crazy while trying to get his life back on track. Given that this is one of the worst times in the US to create new business or find a new job, it was wearing on him. Fly fishing was keeping him moving between the white lines.

We made a fly fisher to fly fisher connection. He had co-owned a small fly shop in another state in the past, so he was experienced with a rod, tying flies, and the sport in general. He quickly made the transition to the 2 weight from the 6 weight rod. He quickly caught on to the presentation I was using and caught fish on flies he had tied. Then he switched to the fly I was using and stepped up his fish per hour rate.

By the end of our trip which lasted until 230PM, we were both tired from catching and releasing fish. We were both smiling like 7 year olds. We were both transported from the pressures and concerns of today's world -- if for only a moment. Perhaps I had helped another fly fisher recapture his fly fishing passion, and my reward was my guilt was gone. My guilt? Yes, sometimes I feel guilty because I receive so much joy from fly fishing, but most of the time I just enjoy and appreciate it.

I hope this short trip will inspire my new fly fishing acquaintance to redouble his efforts to get a small boat, get a 2 weight fly rod, and fly fish with more passion again. Hopefully fly fishing will help him get through his short run trials to a more secure and enjoyable future. Hopefully fly fishing and diversions like it will continue to enrich our lives and help us all through the current madness.

Recently I crossed paths with a tv program in which the host was urging the audience: Don't worry about the things you no longer have due to the economic debacle, rather be thankful for the things you still have. Given the turmoil today -- that struck me as good advice. Wherever we look, we can readily find others in worse shape. We need to appreciate what we have, take enjoyment where we can create or find it, and reach out to others when we can. Most of us truly are in this mess together.

After further review, my answer is that I fly fish for fun. It connects me with nature, man above, God, the great spirit, that higher power. Whether created or evolved, or created and evolved, the power and forces of nature are awe inspiring. Where I fish are natural cathedrals, places worthy of worship, and generally places that inspire deep thoughts. I fly fish because it is the most effective presentation -- hands down for me. When I have compared fly fishing to spin fishing -- I have caught 10 times the fish fly fishing! I fly fish for renewal: When I immerse myself in fly fishing experiences, my spirit is set free, if for only a few moments. These experiences make it possible for me to deal with another day of this world's insanity. I fly fish for perspective: When I compare myself to the immenseness of that which is nature and uncontrolled by man, and the beauty it contains -- my perspective is re-set. I fly fish because I can give back some joy to other fly fishers: Maybe their lives will improve just a little because of my observations, creations, teachings, and actions. I fly fish for many more reasons, but I won't continue down this road farther.

Finally -- if the situation really becomes dire and we are shooting, growing and catching our food again -- I'll fly fish for the table. Nothing better to me than fried guppies, homemade cole slaw, hush puppies, and sweet tea. As many as I've released over the past 16 years, keeping a few won't produce any quilt.

P.S. BUT WAIT! There's more to this story. Who is it, Neal Boortz who is always saying "No good deed goes unpunished"?

Now get the picture (Larry Munson)...this morning, two days after my heart warming fishing trip, my wife walked by my small boat and said "Bill...what is that smell at your boat?" Immediately I checked it out and surmised it was my fish towels. So I grabbed them and loaded them in the washer. An hour later my wife came by and asked if I had figured out "that smell" at my boat. I said,"I washed the fish towels. Is it still there?" She said "absolutely."

I tested the air around the transom of my boat and sure enough, whoooow...what a stench. My boats don't stink folks. Never have, won't start now.

I began sniffing carefully, trying to detect the strongest smelling air. "It is in the transom area," I thought. "Has to be." So I grabbed my electric screwdriver, and removed the right side cover plate from the transom floor. It was clean. Next I disconnected the wiring harness on my trolling motor battery and removed it from the left side. When I removed the left side floor, I found a dead bluegill that had apparently been unaccounted for, and had wriggled up under that floorboard two days ago when my guest was fishing in the rear of my boat. Needless to say - the fish died.

The smell and discovery took me back to one of my favorite movies, Grumpy Old Men starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. The Jack Lemmon character had thrown a yellow perch in the back floorboard of his neighbor's fishing vehicle, and said "Ok, do your work, baby."

Well this little gill in 90F heat was doing its work, baby. In two days the stench was looming, and even small maggots were forming to dispose of the carcass -- IN MY BOAT! I draw the line right here.

About 40 minutes later, the air in my boat storage area is better, the dead fish and his personal maggots are removed, I have sprayed Febreze all over my transom area, and I may accidentally spill some gas back there to make it smell better. I think it will live.

Maybe the Boortz rule is correct after all. I am, however, a stubborn man. I believe this was an accident, carelessness, or whatever, so I'm not going to quit doing what I've suggested is a nice and essential thing -- bringing some sunshine into someone's life when possible.

Next time when I'm securing my boat's belly band, I'll look for fish tails in the transom area. Whew!


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