Sunday, May 9, 2010


From time to time I run into people who tell me all about how they out-fished a buddy, or how they caught more fish than ‘fill in the blank’.

I guess competition is inherent in human nature. After all, it tends to be how we measure ourselves, and our abilities and success. However, ideally, competition should not enter into the little games we play on lakes and streams with our cherished quarry.

Competition should be something that occurs naturally within our own heads. It should have to do with bettering ourselves, learning, casting more precise, or presenting better. It should be an internal challenge to read the water better, choose the proper fly, or adapt to conditions. It never should be something that occurs between yourself and other anglers. That is a perversion of the spirit of angling with a fly.

This is a difficult path to walk. All it takes for us to get side-tracked is to observe another angler catching fish behind us, or figuring out a difficult hatch or fish in a particularly nasty lie, and then we want to catch more and bigger fish than they did.

I have some wisdom to share here. No matter how good you are, how many fish you catch, how far or how accurate you cast, there will always be someone better, usually just around the next bend.

So, the only way not to drive yourself crazy and end up in a straight-jacket mumbling incoherently about the impending cucumber revolution, is to limit the competition to yourself.

Satisfaction should be measured in baby steps, not great strides. Finally raising that big brown that lives under the alders in the bridge pool with a half-reverse slack line reach cast should matter far more than actually hooking it. This kind of personal growth should be celebrated.

With each step we take as anglers on our personal journey and path, we should grow in wisdom as well as skill.

If fly-fishing becomes a true competitive sport, at least we may want to avoid the NASCAR crossover look…


caihlen said...

Nicely said as always brother.

PermaSkunk said...

Very well put. It's why I've started to NOT keep track of how many fish I catch. It's not part of why I'm out there. Yes, it's nice to know I had a 3 or 4 fish day, but not because I want to have a better day than someone else. Competitive fishing mentality is bad juju as far as I'm concerned. Nothing is worse than being skunked because someone gave you the "evil eye".