We all search for fish for different reasons. Personally, each trip has a slightly different purpose for me. As I mentioned in an earlier post, fishing provides a great opportunity to forget about the stresses of the day-to-day work I do. It gives me time to intently focus on reading water, thinking about fish, and presenting flies in the most natural possible way.
Stress relief is only one of the reasons chasing wild fish matters to me. I was drawn to fishing as a child because of the beautiful, wild places that fish (particularly salmonids) tend to live. These wild places make you feel truly small. Whether you're in the High Sierra, Patagonia, or the massive landscapes of Montana, the search for wild trout will make you feel small.
Earlier this fall a buddy of mine and I met up on one of my favorite Northern California trout rivers. This place is truly wild! Very few people come to fish here. The access is tough, the wading is next to impossible, and the river flows are higher than most feel comfortable with. However, this makes for happy, healthy fish! Over the course of the weekend we spent nearly every sun soaked hour waist deep in the river's cold, nutrient rich waters. The banks of this river are literally choked with vegetation. Once you step foot in the river, you're almost instantly three feet deep, stumbling over bowling ball sized rocks covered in what amounts to grease. Its a challenging river to wade that I don't recommend fishing alone.
While we were there, we stayed in an old abandoned camp ground on the opposite side of the river from the main access road. This led to a weekend without seeing a soul. We had the river to ourselves and it was amazing. The quiet, solitude of the river. The deep, persuasive waters. The strong, healthy wild fish, all made for a weekend where we felt truly immersed in the wild places we love. It's a humbling experience to know the river you're in has the upper hand and that you've got to think about every step you make to avoid serious consequences. It's humbling to be in a river completely surrounded by mountains, trees, osprey, and king fishers. It's fishing in places like this that make me feel truly small. This humbling experience brings perspective to my place on planet earth. We're part of a system that is much, much bigger than we are. It's important for us to recognize that from time to time. We have the potential to have an impact on the resources we use, lets make sure our role has a net positive impact on the wild places we love to fly fish.