Preparing for a fishing trip for a die-hard angler is like a kid writing out their Christmas list. Flipping through holiday catalogs and circling the things I wanted and then imagining getting to play with new toys was so exciting. Imagining all the fun was sometimes even more fulfilling than opening the gifts. There are some fun fly fishing and tying catalogs, especially the Feather-Craft Fly Fishing catalog, but the fishing reports are the most inspiring!
Fly fishing companies, fly shops, and outfitters often have weekly or more frequently posted fishing reports. The two sites I often check before heading to a stream include TCO and the Orvis Fishing Reports. Common information presented includes: date of update, weather, flow conditions, temperatures, techniques, tips, recommended flies, access, and equipment required. The fun part for me is the flies. I tie most of the flies I use, and I tie some for friends, and I enjoy learning how to tie new flies and fill my box. This preparation for a trip provides excitement and daydreams of using the flies and, hopefully, landing some nice fish!
The fishing report helps set expectations and provide a strategy, and it also provides hope: hope for a fun trip and exciting fishing! If you are fishing with a friend, often you will go over the reports in the conversations with them to prepare for the trip.
However, the day of the trip arrives, and your preparation doesn’t match the report. Weather is different, hatches are off, and that “must have” fly isn’t landing fish after fish.
In the past year, 90% of the fish I have caught have been caught on four flies: the Frenchie, Pat’s rubber legs, the mop fly, and the black jig streamer. Prior to December, I had three flies that caught 90% of my fish: the Pat’s Rubber Legs is a newcomer to my confidence fly repertoire. The other 10% are caught primarily on dry flies specific to seasonal hatches. Moments catching a fish on a dry fly are often etched in your mind for some time. They are incredibly visual and provide a rush in watching, fighting, and landing the fish.
Was the time reading and talking about the fishing reports wasted if I always go back to my confidence flies that help generate my success? I’m not sure.
Anticipation, learning, and preparation are gratifying for me. Hope is good for my mental health. In those ways, the preparation has its own reward, like looking through those catalogs as a kid. Tying new flies is creative and satisfying. Sometimes they provide the spark that’s needed to be confident on the stream. Other aspects of my life, not just my Christmas list :), follow similar patterns.
At work, I put in a lot of effort to be strategic in business development and management and for developing technical solutions to engineering problems. Things don’t go according to plan most days. Talking to coworkers last week, I inquired about their time management strategies. Over half of them described their days as “Whack-A-Mole.” Whatever pops up has to be handled and hit with the mallet. All their plans and strategies, if they still bother to have them, go out the window when an urgent matter develops. In those critical moments, they go back to their strengths, the methods in which they have confidence. Sound familiar? Mike Tyson said it well, “Everyone has a plan ‘til they get punched in the face.” Now, I have been punched in the face a few times. It’s way more of a wakeup than a fly not working on a fishing trip, but plans go out of the window in most periods of stress.
I believe that if you are enjoying your time and learning, it is not wasted. Incremental learning comes from trying something new. People struggle in discomfort. They turn to things they rely on when things get scary. Being unconscious to the fall back is the real loss. Conscious decisions can help you find something comfortable or to reach to grow, without judgement. I loved the Troutbitten story this week on choosing to pick one water type and fish it. Based on available time, stress, goals for your trip, or discomfort, you can choose to go with your strength. And give yourself a break about it.