One-Fly Teaches Me Several Lessons
Last week I had the opportunity to fish with a great team in Trout Unlimited's Single Fly Tournament on Utah's amazing Green River. Bryan, Garrett, Greg, and I fished hard and finished in the top half of teams, which wasn't too bad. More importantly, this tournament was hosted to raise money for a worthy cause, specifically to help TU oppose a proposed water diversion project that would pull several thousands of acre feet of water from the Green River in Wyoming and Utah and send it to the Denver area to water lawns and golf courses (this explanation is a bit oversimplified but I'm sticking to it). Anyone who has ever fished the Green River in Utah or Wyoming knows that these incredible fisheries are simply treasures of trout fishing that fly fishing can't afford to lose. I urge you all to get involved on the side of the good guys here and oppose this frivolous water grab. That said, the tournament also taught me several lessons that I'm happy to have learned:
Lesson 1 - Throwing one big streamer all day is tiring, but oddly enjoyable. Our practice fishing was tough so we decided strategically to have 2 of our 4 anglers throw streamers to try to land a couple of big fish (2 fish could be measured and every inch counted for a point, any fish past 2 counted just 1 point per fish). I of course wanted to chuck the meat and volunteered to be one of the streamer guys. I landed one fish quickly and one more about an hour later and then, wow, 4 or 5 hours of nothing! However, we got to fish some mildly murky water in the last 2 hours of the float and the strikes increased (sadly hooksets were limited, my fault there). Anyway, at the end of the float it was really fun to cast at the shoreline structure and actually have great hopes of a strike on most casts. Also, at the end of the day of throwing my big streamer my hand, forearm, and shoulder ached and I had blisters. It really felt like I earned the fish I was able to catch though and that was fulfilling.
Lesson 2 - Using Single-hand Spey Casting techniques keep flies out of trees and bushes and actually works! Although I know what to do and have experimented some, I hadn't really fished these techniques much until this trip. Since we fished out of the boat for several hours pulling streamers across riffles with a lot of vegetation and even cliffs behind us, the Spey casting was a life saver. Search for a pro in your area to teach you this and try this technique yourself, it's fun, not too difficult, and productive in the right situations.
Lesson 3 - Fly fishing is always amazing. Even though I'm lucky to be on the water pretty frequently, it's usually working as a guide or for short sessions in the evening. I rarely get the chance to spend 3 full days fishing for myself. After the first half day or so you find yourself in what I'll call the "fly & fish zone" or maybe simply "the happy place." This is where you have been fishing for a while and eventually you forget all of your stressors and begin to stop thinking about anything else outside of fishing. It's great! You feel connected to the fly as you cast, you feel connected to the fish as you start to analyze and even feel the currents, both on and below the surface, you feel totally at ease joking with your fishing buddies, and you simply relax. Life is life and we can't all be incurable trout bums all the time but I suggest that everyone plan at least one 3 - 10 day fly fishing outing a year. I had forgotten how cool it is to find the "fish & fly happy place." Thank you - Green River.
In short, the Single Fly was a blast. My blisters have healed. My shoulder and pride have recovered. It was a great time spent earning cash for an important cause. And it certainly helped me to refuel the fly fishing fire.