On the way up to the American River to fish for steelhead last Friday, my buddy Kurt and I recapped the last 12 months and prepared for the next 365 days of potential drifts. Obviously, dropping caddis flies, pheasant tails, egg sucking leeches and beads every single day in 2013 isn’t possible, but making a concerted effort to keep the passion active instead of turning dormant is important to having a life. Though I fished over 90 days this year, I still have to keep sharp on my three basic angling rules which I will dispense as I remind myself.
1. Find a friend. If you want to fish more in 2013, find someone who wants to fish to be an accountability partner of sorts. For the past half-decade my buddy Nate and I have explored the Eel, Van Duzen, Klamath and other rivers in the spring and fall. Whenever I want to get the campfire going for a weekend, I know Nate is on board. If I feeling like driving three hours to Redding for big rainbow day trip, I know Kurt is down, and when I’ve got three hours of asphalt between me and home after the sun sets, it’s nice to have someone there to fill out the fishing notes, retell the stories or pass the chips to keep me awake. The same works for fly-tying. I’d love to say that I tie flies regularly, but that’s not true. I tie when Kurt and I get together in preparation for a trip.
2. Be brave. A bunch of guys in my trout circle have spent a good deal of time on the Upper Sacramento the last few years, so the temptation is great to stay with what’s familiar. The first trip to new water can be confusing, frustrating and you might just spend the day wishing you’d have just gone where you know because at least you could get into fish. If you want to be the type of fisherman who can catch fish wherever he or she goes, you have to be the type of fisherman who is not afraid of that risk. In the past year, I hit the Pit, Hat Creek, and parts of the Tuolumne for the first time and had success on all three, though I had to earn insight through experience. It makes the weekend decisions more difficult because the choice between rolling with the 1-weight on a little stream or maybe great dry-fly action somewhere else, or larger rainbows with the 5-weight, isn’t easy. A list of rivers you want to revisit is a good problem to have.
3. Try something new. This is ambiguous because there are so many techniques, rigs, set-ups let alone fish and water to get into when fly-fishing - all of which make rule No. 3 not only applicable to every angler but vital. I know people who use 5-weights and standards patterns on the same water all year. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some early Stanislaus River rainbow action with my 5-weight and an RS2 under a pheasant tail, but I used to enjoy me some early Stanislaus River action with my 5-weight and nothing under a prince nymph. Things don’t get much more fly-fishing 101 than that, and I’ve grown since then because I was willing try new things. My favorite patterns on the Stan, Upper Sac and my favorite rivers back home in Alaska are the ones I tie myself and figured out by breaking free of the old standby’s. My favorite rod for the lower Stan is a 7-foot,10-inch bamboo a former classmate of my mother’s made and whenever I get a chance, I love playing small ball with my Sage TXL-F 1-weight. People ask, “Why do you need that?” It’s not about needing when it comes to things like fly-fishing. That doesn’t mean you should be irresponsible, but if you cut out the Starbucks for a month, you could get yourself your own 1-weight. Cut out Starbucks and beer and you might be able to afford yourself a nice little rod/reel combo. Anyway, push yourself a little this year. Tie your own birds nests, learn how to punch out heavy rigs from a clump of bushes, utilize the strip and give, buy a specialty rod - anything to keep you a sharp and dynamic angler.
Keywords: trout, fly fishing