I fish as much as I possibly can, and when I'm not fishing then I am thinking about fishing. My wife would tell you that I'm obsessed, and while she generally throws that word around just a bit too much, in this case she is correct. I am obsessed, and more often than not my obsession can only be satisfied by the corresponding compulsion to cast a fly. Fly rodding is the one thing - the ONE thing aside from family - about which I am truly passionate. Everything else stands in fly fishing's shadow.
Given my obsession - or passion depending on one's point of view - I consider it a blessing that I've been able to surround myself with people who love fly fishing almost as much as I do. I've friends that will arrange months of vacation and work schedules around a steelhead trip, or drop everything - including anniversaries, child care, and work deadlines - to make for the river when the year's first hendricksons begin to show. These men (and yes ... they're all men ... much to my chagrin) understand that when the river offers up her bounty - as she so rarely does - it is simply rude not to accept the gift.
This is what both perplexes and vexes me about my brothers-in-arms. The fellas with whom I most often fish are dedicated trout hounds. They love cold water. They love mountains and free flowing rivers. They love rainbows porpoising over a strong hatch of emerging duns, and scum feeding browns nosing up through the remnants of last night's spinner fall. They love big fish - strong fish - doggedly pulling drag from their reels, or running like thoroughbreds to the next pool. They're invested in trout and - to a lesser degree - steelhead and salmon.
Sadly, their love of cold water fish and spring fed fisheries does not necessarily translate to an interest in other species. My closest friends and fishing partners largely ignore warmwater fishing. The reasons for their disdain vary from a lack of knowledge of local lakes and slow moving ditches, to the contempt bred of familiarity. Most of the boys spent their childhoods chasing bass, bream, pike and walleye. For these fellas, trout fishing is still fresh and new; it is the undiscovered country.
But my history is a little different. I fished warmwater as much as the rest of them, but I spent additional time - years in fact - traipsing along the shores of the Battenkill with my father. Consequently, my fly fishing knows no allegiance. I'll wet my line in a mud puddle if that's the only option, and this time of year - when the water warms to dangerous temperatures for cold water fish - the best option for both fish and fisherman is to change tactics and fisheries.
Please don't misunderstand my intent. Neither do I write to ridicule anyone for the choices they make nor to argue in favor of pursuing one species instead of another. This has been done ad nauseam, and the arguments are tedious. Instead, I write today to appeal to my friends to reconsider. Please fellas. Please come out and play.
Join me downstream. Join me past the mountains and the spring fed portions of the river. Join me past redbands rising to olives, and speckles smacking hoppers. Join me where the river turns her back on brown trout, and instead casts a smile on brozebacks, buckets, and golden bones. These fish have merit, even if they haven't proper breeding.
Do it for me boys. I get lonely out there without someone to mock my poorly tied flies, my amateurish casting, or my elephantine wading. I need someone to spot carp cruising on the flats, and to hold the fish for a photo. Come on ... hook a brother up. Isn't fishing warmwater - be it for bass, carp, pike, fallfish or whatever - a better option than languishing on your couch. Give it a shot. Just one carp, and I'll bet you're hooked deeper than the fish.
I'll even buy the beer.