I've friends - fishing partners - men whom I trust with some of the most important things in life: accurate and timely river reports, glimpses into my fly box, photographing those fish I've caught that are worthy of a photograph. I love these guys like family, like brothers. Really, I do.
But I find myself sometimes thinking that they're all a little nearsighted.
Here's the thing. Each of the boys is a trout fisherman of the highest order. Each chases salmo trutta, salvelinus fontinalis, and oncorhynchus mykiss armed with long rods, leaky waders, and rarefied passion. Each is absolutely dedicated to the pursuit of his chosen quarry, usually to the exclusion of any other species. They're trout chasers who rarely walk the road less traveled. I guess what I'm saying is that these guys are trout fishermen before they're fly fishermen.
Don't misunderstand me. The fellas are dedicated fly flingers, but if they're not chasing trout then chances are that they just aren't fishing. Such has been especially evident this summer as we've had virtually no rain, water levels have been eerily low, and water temperatures have been dangerously high. Trout fishing has been out of the question. Consequently, the boys and I haven't spent nearly as much time stream side as we usually do.
As for me ... well ... I tend to think of myself as a bug chucker first, and a trout hound second. I love cold rivers, emerging mayflies, and top feeding trout, but just about any fish that will take a fly gives me essentially the same thrill as a spinner slurping brown. Trout, bass, bluegill, carp, pike, steelhead ... it makes no difference to me. I love a well executed double haul, the rush of the take, and the adrenaline pumping uncertainty of fighting a solid fish. I'd fish in a toilet if the alternative were not fishing at all.
I suppose I'm going to take some heat from the boys. They'll suggest that I'm being obtuse, that I'm being insulting, that I'm offering some sort of a commentary about their preferences or aptitude. This couldn't be further from the truth. Like I said, I love these guys. They're great friends, and fine fishermen. I learn something from each of them nearly every time we're on the water together.
It's just that ... well ... I get a little lonely out there (here comes the Oprah moment). Sure, I like fishing alone well enough. Fishing alone is fine when there isn't any other choice, but from top to bottom I thoroughly enjoy hitting the water with the boys. If given the opportunity to do one or the other, I will always choose to have the company. Something as special as fly fishing - and all that fly fishing entails - simply begs to be shared.
Even if that means it's carp instead of brookies or bass instead of browns.