Fishstration: On the Joys and Frustration of Fly Fishing

I’m not a trout fisherman naturally. I come from down south where fishing means largemouth bass, stiff rods, baitcasting reels, and crankbaits or spinners or plastic worms.  I used to own a bass boat with a depth finder, 75HP motor, and live wells sprinkled around the deck. Trout? Fly rods? That’s something done by “other” people up north, I’ll stick with real fishing.  Then I moved up north, fell in love with the area (and a girl) and thought I’d like to try fly fishing.

They say if you give a man a fish, he has fish for a day.  If you teach him to fish, he needs rods, reels, waders, flies, etc., etc. For the new fisherman, that’s sooooo true. And lord knows I’ve got ‘em now.  Orvis, Beaver Creek Fly Shop, Amazon, and Mastercard have made sure I have everything. And what I didn’t buy, my friends at PVFF have filled in. And I also have the books, the magazine subscriptions, the YouTube and Orvis videos, and though I never met them, I remain in awe of the legends such as Kreh and Clouser.  Over time, I am also gaining an appreciation of the legends we have as active members in PVFF as well.

But then there’s the little matter of the fish.  They seem unimpressed by my equipment, the books I’ve read, the videos I’ve watched, or the fact that I know some real fishermen and fisherwomen. I’ve cast (if you can call it that) into all the right fish spots, on the right days, with the right flies – or so I thought, but found little cooperation among those slippery critters in the creek. We’ve stared eye to eye (they call it sight fishing), watched the fish as they watched my fly go by with barely a nod to my fully equipped, well read, and awestruck existence.  If it weren’t for the outdoor noises around me, I’m sure I could have heard the sound of laughing fish.

Joy comes with the morning, the psalmist says. Or, in a more earthy version — hope springs eternal. I took a trip in Tennessee last year and my guide had me catching trout all day.  Also, this fall I was fishing — not catching — one afternoon at Catoctin Creek when one of our club legends stepped in the water with me and had a fish on within minutes. Both the guide and my new friend made it look easy and proved it can be done.

So I’ll get there.  Lucky for me, PVFF has started a formal mentoring program, I signed up immediately, and now I have a mentor, one of our PVFF legends. I fear his work is cut out for him.  In the meantime I’m going to enjoy the outdoors, enjoy my new friends, and keep on keeping on. Let’s enjoy the spring!

By Dennis Allen