There are multiple types of fly fisherman in this world and regardless how long you have been fly fishing in the end what you get out of it inevitably depends on the effort you put into it. Face it the more time you spend on the water, the more experience and knowledge you acquire. Homework is always a plus and of course listening to more experienced anglers is always a mark of a good angler. Where you fish and why you fish and what you fish for is always an exciting conversation to have with any angler. Unfortunately no two people seem to fish for the same reason, and no two fishermen have the same financial resources or ample free time to indulge themselves. Hardly if ever you will find much harmony in the answers. In the end, it’s the answers to these questions that more often than not will dictate your success on the water.

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If you fish long enough most fisherman start to evolve and the more target specific you become. You settle in on one or two maybe three different species and dig in. Of course, this all depends on why you fish in the first place. Again there are rarely any two anglers who can agree what they get out of fishing. Some people never evolve, and for that, I am genuinely sorry. Some people just like catching a few fish for dinner and that’s as far as it ever goes and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Others fall off the deep end and are never heard from again. They live out their lives in trucks and campers, they drag drift boats and rafts behind their vehicles and are gone for months at a time and sometimes years. I have been there. Before I was married, I fished two hundred and fifty days a year and sometimes more.

Eventually, you come to the conclusion fly fishing is not just something you occasionally do on the weekend and it dawns on you that all you do is fish, and when you can’t be on the water, you are reading about it or writing about it. You find yourself spending hours on the phone with your friends discussing the newest fly patterns, the best spey lines,  the best reels and drags, the latest rumors about Atlantic salmon rivers in Norway. Maybe a little-known steelhead river in Northern British Columbia, or the central lakes district in Patagonia that produces giant rainbows, or the latest bonefish or permit flats that have popped up on everyone’s radar. It doesn’t stop there – if you run out of fishing stories you find yourself discussing the best Scotch whiskey, a new bourbon, or the latest wine from Argentina, etc… It’s endless, and it never, never, never stops – your bookshelf starts to look like the local library, your house begins to resemble your favorite lodge, you spend hours on the internet trying to find that oilcloth red checkered tablecloth you found so charming in Labrador. Where in the hell is it – the damn internet. (if anyone knows where I can get one, please let me know) When you reach this point in your life, you have successfully fallen off the deep end. Fly fishing is no longer a hobby it has become a lifestyle. You no longer define yourself by who you are but by what you do.

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Fishing can have that effect on people and fly fisherman have the preponderance to be the most susceptible. Fly fishing becomes a passion; it’s an uncontrollable passion, and the downside is it can get very costly in a hurry depending on how far and how quickly you fall off the cliff. I am not necessarily talking about the physical or the quantitative cost – I am talking about the emotional damage. It’s the emotional cost that prevents most people from becoming passionate about anything. For the most part, most passionate people rarely have room in their life for anything other than that what they are passionate about – it can be a lonely position in which to find yourself. At this point, you either realize your family should be the essential thing in your life or at some point your wife eventually throws you sorry ass out the door or has an affair with the mailman. It’s been my observation it can go either way.

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I was extremely lucky; I grew up in what most fisherman considered to be the best light tackle saltwater destination in the world – South Florida and the Florida Keys. I was a passionate fisherman before I even knew what the word meant. I didn’t meet my wife until my mid-thirties, and by then there was no help for me. My wife knew what she was getting. She has no one to blame but herself. I was fortunate enough to find someone who understood that I was too far gone to change – instead, she has always encouraged me to indulge myself and embrace my passion. A word of advise – women like my wife are hard to find. They are out there so if you are lucky enough to find one hold on tight. They’re outliers they live outside the norm.

At this point, you have probably made the jump, and your falling spread eagle with your arms and legs flailing in the wind wondering when you are going to stop or are you going to crash and burn into the ground. A funny thing seems to happen – the more passionate you become about fly fishing you start to evolve, and you get more selective about certain fish and fisheries. At some point in time, you realize there is to much water and to many fish and not enough time in one lifetime to fish them all. Depending on when you first started fly fishing – your time on the water can be precious. Like most college professors your research gets narrower and narrower, and you settle on two maybe three species, and everything becomes almost irrelevant. At this point in my life, the majority of my energy is consumed chasing steelhead, Atlantic salmon and permit. Steelhead in the Northwest in spring and fall, Atlantic salmon in May, June, and July in Quebec, and permit anywhere in the Southern hemisphere anytime. It seems something strange has happened – I don’t catch anywhere near the numbers of fish I once caught. Be careful ladies and gentlemen what you ask for.

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On the one hand, I have been incredibly lucky, one because the quality of the fisheries I grew up around and two because of the quality of fisherman I either new or was exposed to as a young man.  While other kids were fishing farm ponds for panfish and bass or small streams for brook trout, I was pitching flies at snook and tarpon, and when I had the chance, bonefish, and permit. I grew up in what most old-timers considered the glory days of the Miami Metropolitan Fishing Tournament. The MET was a legendary fishing competition in Miami that ran between mid-December and mid-April. The first time I met Lefty, he was the director of the MET and still the outdoor writer for the Miami Herald and even though at that time I was too young to participate in the MET, I did manage to hang around several guides and a few friends that did fish it yearly. It was my first opportunity to be around fisherman that essentially fish every day and yes most part were either single or divorced. To say they we were passionate is an understatement. In essence, they changed my life forever, and I must admit for the best.

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The years have flown by at warp speed. It all starts getting a little hazy at times and sometimes when I’m talking to a close friend I can go on for hours. One fishing story runs into another fishing story, and one location or fishing trip is just the beginning of another adventure. I have given up talking about fishing to new acquaintances which is tough to do because I own Sweet Waters Adventure, a travel agency dedicated to fly fisherman and wing shooters. It gets to the point in a conversation when I know the person I am talking to thinks I am full of cow manure. I think the biggest problem facing society today is the lack of people with a passion for anything. How can you truly love something if you are not passionate about it? To be passionate about fishing you automatically learn to love the places where we fish and the environments in which we fish in, and the protection of them. Being passionate about something is ok. In the end, it’s up to us to save what’s left and to be the caretakers of the environments in which the fish and birds we love are found. If it’s not up to us, then who will protect the things we love.

 





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