Opening Day

“I’d rather eat cat shit on a cabbage leaf than participate in that goat rodeo.”

“...Dynamic always the same: arrive early, stake out a good spot, then attempt to defend it from drunken rednecks.”

“I feel sorry for the kids that have their introduction to fishing in this kind of environment.”

Those quotes were generated and published on a very well-known website recently from viewing the picture below.  A photo that has elicited some commentary...and for me at least...some other thoughts.   I feel a rant coming on.

In my reading I see a lot of folks bemoaning the state of fly fishing in America.  Some worry that the blip caused by Mr. Redford’s movie has faded as we watch our favorite magazines bite the dust and too many of our fly shops doing the same. They fear that the sport is stagnant, if not declining...that growth is a thing of the past.

One reason (and this is just a guess) for the decline might be a certain snobbishness that has become a part of the sport we love.  A certain snobbishness that does not go unnoticed by beginning anglers. 

Some sneer at those that go about their fishing in ways that are different than ours.  For those with lesser equipment they look – yes really look – for the chance to introduce the term redneck into their commentaries. They speak of their favorite waters with reverence flavored with a large dose of superiority.  Their tackle is bought with hard earned ego dollars and they never fail to point out the prices paid. 

Too often we forget from where we came.  Few of us received an Orvis Battenkill for our sixteenth birthday and our first ventures into fly fishing nirvana were not to Patagonia.  In some cases, those first casts were probably made in spots like the one pictured above.  They were for me.  Literally.

I have been there.  I have done that.  The photo is from the upstream section of Roaring River, and it’s Opening Day.  It’s a ritual and it’s not ALL about catching trout.   It’s more a celebration that winter is coming to a close and a chance to get back on the river with old friends.  LOTS of old friends.  Yes, they’ll fill their stringers today, but hey it’s legal and they paid for the right to do so.  I have landed (and strung) my share of those just released stockers before the echoes of the opening siren have ended. It was my introduction to trout fishing and I loved every minute of it.

In the years since, have I evolved to higher plane?  I certainly hope not.  Yes, my tackle is more expensive and my destinations are slightly more exotic, but I hope to never put down another angler because of it. Thousands of words have been written about the joys of trout fishing and just as certainly, untold numbers of anglers just like those pictured have been a part of the enjoyment.  And I’ll bet that a lot of them with the passage of time have spent a buck or two on some fly gear.

Never assume that a guy casting a Rooster Tail to stocker trout is having less fun than you are.  Do you think that guy in Patagonia holding the thirty inch brown had more fun that you did with your last bluegill?  If you do, I’m sorry.  You are missing the joy that got you into this sport in the first place.






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