Fly fish all day
Lessons Learned (Stories)

Fish All Day – One Fish Is All It Takes

Wading the river was enough.  That’s what I told myself and it helped.  I had fished other sections that day.  Casting and changing flies.  Trying to problem solve in new waters and discover the things about this river and this day that would land a fish in the net and take me just a little further. 

The river rolled over boulders and cut through the sounds of the afternoon so all I heard was its powerful consistency roaring in my head.  Listening to the song I took one more cast and one more look at the water I had fished downstream that continued on through the canyon, then I walked up the embankment to my truck and drove along the river towards my house or back towards the water churning in my head.  As I drove I caught glimpses of the river and of the day’s fishing trying to think of a lesson I could take away.  I had fished hard with no fish to show for it.   There was still time left.  Should I fish all day?

Time on the Water

It’s all about time on the water, right?.  Fishing is a numbers game in many ways.  We all know that but it’s easy to forget what you’re building on days when fishing is slow.  The lessons don’t come easy.  It could take the same mistake over and over before it dawns on you to make that change that a fish will reward.  And it could be something you would only have learned that one day, in that one section, with that one fly, and that one fish.  

Over time we take pride as those lessons add up, but what we really want is fish.  Catching fish tells us we are progressing.  The fish is the instant reward.  The fish tells us if what we thought would work, actually did.  Only then do we file it away.  

If there’s time left in the day, then there’s time left to learn.  Time left to catch fish.  That’s the same hope we feel with each cast.  Hoping a fish takes our fly.  That’s the progress we are after.

READ: WADEOUTTHERE | What Makes a Good Day’s Fishing.

One Fish or One Hour

It doesn’t take long for a day on the river to turn around.  Sometimes it’s skill.  Sometimes it’s luck.  Often it’s both if we tell ourselves the truth.  

What do we remember about our best days on the water?  Sections of the day stand out in our memories like sections of the river.  A nice fish.  A bunch of fish.  But here’s the catch.  No matter how bad the fishing’s been. 

We are always just one last cast away from that one fish, or one hour that turns a day easily forgotten, into a story you’ll tell about a great days fishing. 

We are always one moment away from avoiding the skunk (and that’s part of it too).

READ: WADEOUTTHERE | Don’t Fear the Skunk. Part 1 of 2. It Happens.

READ: WADEOUTTHERE | Don’t Fear the Skunk. Part 2 of 2. Two Strategies to Avoid It.

Keep Fishing

I drove past the exit for my house and up past the town to a section I had been before and caught fish.  There was not much time left before I had to be back, but there was time.  And then it happened. 

I didn’t even re-rig when I reached the water.  Just cast the same thing with the sliver of hope I had left from a  long fishless day.  A take and a nice fish.  And then another.  And before I knew it.  I had that hour that made the day.  And that lesson that makes the journey.

Probably the biggest difference was the type of water I was fishing.  That’s the lesson I took away from that day.  I had read it.  Heard it.  Thought I knew it.  But a memory of catching fish in that last hour is what hammered it home for me.

Start knowing it may take the whole day to get that one fish or that one section of water that builds a memory and you’ll be able to enjoy the day more.  That’s how I think of it.  Even the  best fly fisher doesn’t catch the first cast everytime.  They don’t catch fish all day either.    It’s good days and bad.  You’re no different.  Wadeoutthere and  fish all day.  

We’ve all had those days when one last cast or one last section caught us fish.  What’s yours?  Share in the comments.


Jason Shemchuk


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