Trout Counting and Investing

Coastal Chrome Steelhead

Coastal Chrome Steelhead

I just had my first epic day of the non-winter fishing season, it had very little to do with the number of trout brought to hand. It has become a bit of a tradition in our household to take a Sunday every once in a while and make a family day out of it. Wake up, go for a run, come home and lounge; generally have a lazy morning. Once the sun starts to rise a little higher in the sky we throw a couple of rods in the car and wander to one of our favorite spots with no particular agenda or timeline, some days we don’t even fish when we get there.

Today, I decided to bring my shiny new Tenkara rod that had only been blessed with one fish since Christmas. I wanted an opportunity for my wife to try out her awesome gift. I was having trouble explaining the concept and now was excited to show her how much fun it is to enjoy the simplicity of the new (old) rage of Tenkara.

We forgot sunblock which was a mistake, the sun came out and it was a perfect 70 degrees with only a breath of wind. The blue wings started coming off and a normally quiet river began to boil. We had an absolute blast passing the Tenkara around even while our dog was splashing around in the river in the very spot we were pulling out one fish after another. This was the exact same spot I spent nearly 10 hours the prior month without ever seeing a fish.

I ran into a friend and he asked how the river was fishing. Without thinking, I said: “it’s fishing awesome, I have already lost count”. After thinking about that for a moment that probably sounded a little different than I intended. I was not trying to brag, I typically lose count at about two fish, maybe three. I have come to really appreciate getting skunked, I feel it is a critical part of my fishing investment portfolio.

I think once you enter the brutal world of fishing for Steelhead especially with a fly rod you need to invent a bit of an alternate reality to convince yourself to keep going back. When it comes to trout fishing I do my best to apply this same mindset and superstition on the days that I am working harder than I feel I should be.

I put in 20+ days in the last two years in search of a Steelhead without ever bringing one to hand, many of these days were guided, a few of them even involved a little gear fishing, gasp!

I hooked up a few times and landed tons of trout but just never made the connection. I knew deep down that I was putting in my casts like coins into a slot machine. I regularly joked that they were the fish of 20,000 casts and the number would increment on the next trip. A good friend also pointed out that you can do everything right but if there are not actually fish where you are fishing, it can be difficult to catch a fish. I thought that was quite prophetic.

Last month, a last minute trip materialized and we were able to sneak out for a few days fishing the tail end of the winter steelhead season.

My first hook up on day one confused me so much I just stood there staring at my line thinking it was snagged until it moved from one side of the river to the other literally almost hitting my guide in the head as it passed. I continued my blank stare amidst his shouting until the fish went airborne.

While I was not personally really keeping track, my guide made note that in about 18 hours of fishing over 3 days we brought 10 fish to the boat and touched many more. Ok, it is possible that I was keeping track, it had been a long winter after all! The fish that broke the slump was the biggest fish of the trip, possibly in my life and put up a fight that matched it’s size.

This has all affirmed my deep belief that slow fishing and fish less days are the most important investments you can make. This last Sunday on our favorite tailwater when the sun peaked, the fishing slowed down. Instead of becoming frustrated, we enjoyed a nice walk while watching the bald eagles flying overhead. When we had enough sun, we packed up the Jeep and slowly made our way home, enjoying the day and listening to our favorite NPR show.

Sunday was a solid investment, I plan to buy a few more stocks in a similar day here very soon.

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