Do you really care if you catch a fish? [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Do you really care if you catch a fish?

05-04-2004, 05:10 AM
In today's competitive society sometimes we get caught up in the competition of fishing. Do you really care about catching a fish or the whole expierence of being out in nature? On several trips out West I watched my type A friends get very frustrated when they could not catch fish. Once they relaxed and forgot about the competitive aspects of fish they enjoyed themselves.
So for me its the whole experince. I may not get the largest fish of the trip but that's ok I fish to relax not to compete.

05-04-2004, 06:52 AM
One of the cool things about playing around with spey rods is that there is so much to do with all the different lines and casts that as much time is spent just casting for fun as is spent fishing. The river I spend most of my time on experiences some nice runs of fish, but also some serious dead periods as well. You'll see guys out there for hours having a ball with just a piece of yarn on the end of the leader. Must be a Zen kind of thing. Fish and no fish being one and the same. That is until someone else hooks up. But to answer your question directly, if I needed a fish each trip out to feel justified in my fishing efforts I'd have quit long ago. And the "My fish is bigger than your fish" competition thing? Freud had some choice comments on this kind of person. Something along the lines of "The guy who needs to brag about his big fish is compensating for a lack of big fish in other areas of his life". :hehe:

05-04-2004, 07:55 AM
Yeah I care if I catch fish and the bigger the better but that does not mean I don't enjoy the time if the striped rodent pays me a call. There is a lot that goes into the fishing experience and I love it all but the core nugget of purpose is to catch fish.

05-04-2004, 07:58 AM
Interesting, this-

No, not really. This discussion has occurred between myself and several others here, recognizeable names, similar sentiments; fishing isn't unsuccessful or unrewarding if you don't catch fish.

05-04-2004, 08:02 AM
Having lived in Georgia for four years in the not-too-distant past, if catching fish on every outing was all that mattered to me, I would have given it up back then. When I was younger, growing up on a lake in Southern New Jersey and fishing nearly every day of the year, I wanted to catch fish everytime I went out, and naturally my friends and I always had a competition going. Now, living in the city (Bronx) and being surrounded by the urban sprawl, all I want to do is get out and wet a line, and if I hook and land a few, it sweetens the experience. But if I return to the car at the end of the day having landed no fish, it's okay; there's always next time.

05-04-2004, 08:03 AM
If I didn't care about catching fish, I'm not sure why I would bother fishing.
Sure I love to be out doors, intensly observing my surroundings, and sometimes just soaking it all in...sometimes just getting soaked.
Sometimes I tell myself that i don't really need to catch fish to have a good time, and then I catch one. " Ahhhh, that feels better."

05-04-2004, 08:44 AM
Hmmm... well that depends, what does it feel like to not catch fish? :devil:

J/K - to me a magnificent fish (not a schoolie, jack salmon, grilse or half-pounder but a trophy specimen) is confirmation that I am committed to the pursuit, that I am intense about the study of the game, and that the direction I am going in is worth travelling further. I do indeed enjoy even fishless days, but however much I enjoy the journey I need to see the destinations once in a while to stay deeply inspired. I'd rather be a conquerer than a nomad, but the long road to big conquests makes the victory all the sweeter.

Perhaps that's why I'm among the ranks who seek steelhead on a fly with traditional spey methods, find the dog days the most intriguing on Monomoy, and am enamored with trying to out-stealth paranoid bonefish. I've yet to chase them but roosterfish sure sound like my kind of quarry - beautiful to behold, big, strong and extremely hard to get. So many species, so little time.

Of course, the best part is... the release.

John Desjardins
05-04-2004, 09:02 AM
H'mm, I'd rather catch fish but it's enjoyable all the same if I don't.

Dble Haul
05-04-2004, 09:12 AM
To be honest, yes it does matter if I catch fish.

But that doesn't mean that I don't have a great time even if I don't catch anything. There are far too many other variables involved in fishing that I enjoy.

05-04-2004, 09:13 AM
I love to catch fish, but love being out on the beach too. I hate watching Penguin and Juro catch fish though while I am not.:devil: ;)

05-04-2004, 09:30 AM
No doubt about it. My goal is to catch the biggest and most fish. I feel empty and depressed after a day watching people like Juro, roop or Penguin constantly hooked up. As his former personal caddy I always root for striblue.

05-04-2004, 09:38 AM
To me it matters, If it didnt I wouldnt have an arsenal of fly rods. CND Sage and Loomis would be a little poorer.

North Island
05-04-2004, 10:59 AM
Actually I don't really need to catch fish. It's the expectation. It's the anticipation. All the effort tying, traveling, learning the river system. It leeds to that rush of emotion that happens the moment the fish strikes! If the fish is landed , so much the better, I do enjoy a fish dinner with family.

Don't get me started on sight fishing to fish that are unaware of my presence.

N I:)

Sharp Steelie
05-04-2004, 11:14 AM
I go fly fishing to have fun! There really is something
to be said about "expectations". Everytime heading out
I don't expect to catch anything. Because of not expecting
to catch fish - I don't put myself under any pressure.
Guess what - when there is no personal pressure, tend to
focus more and catch fish! It's all about fun - not
competition! :)

Jere Eshelman
05-04-2004, 11:20 AM
Having just returned from a rather unsuccessful trip to SE Alaska this really hits home. Did I enjoy the vacation as much as if I had landed some chrome? No! But was the fishing enjoyable? Absolutely! I agree with Moose that the spey rod and the casting has added a new dimension to the fishing. Every cast was made with the expectation of feeling that tug, but the next cast would be a better one. I would slow down, stop the rod higher, and form a tighter loop. I spent hours to improve my casting techniques and came home looking forward to my next trip (for Atlantics the end of June) knowing that my casting will be improved, thus making the trip even more enjoyable with or without fish.

05-04-2004, 12:09 PM
There can only be good answers on this subject how can one not enjoy catching and how can one not enjoy fishing. For me the catching and the fishing are like yin and yang, related, the same but different.

From the first time I caught a fish a small snapper blue off Falmouth at the age of 3, my first memory that still lives. Thru 49 years after that first fish, fishing has always taken an evolutionary path. I'm sure we all go thru it weather we realize it or not. I've been thru some dramatic changes over the years on how I look at the subject of do I need to catch fish or just enjoy what is in front of me on a beautiful day. As a kid of ten or eleven I enjoyed going fishing, I fished the majority of time on my own, walking the Back River casting a fly for schoolies or hiding under the Fore River Bridge with heavy gear at night dead drifting a sea worm under the structure. At that age I was consumed with catching some mysterious huge fish, it's all I thought about. But looking back on it now I realize it may of seemed that way to me then but now I can see that it was really about being out in and on the water by myself. I can look back and I can see myself and the smile I always had and I can even rear up the emotions I had back then of being out on my own, the exploration of the salt grass, the dynamics of learning the cast entirely on your own and the tides, I was totally engrossed in how the tides changed everything around my day.

Times change and so do we, fishing included. There has been the ego of macho fly fishing as a trout bum in Montana in my twenties to my late 30 something that went all the way to the extreme of limiting myself to just one cast in a day to the perfect sipping trout in the very of hardest of lies or no cast that day at all. It was the first steelhead on a fly and it took only 15 minutes of the first time going when it was said it would take at least 40 hrs of fishing. Talking about ego and humility, yin & yang, I never touched another one for an entire year. But I became totally focused on catching till 5 or 6 years ago.

Now at 52 I enjoy being on the water, fishing and catching both but fishing, good friends and nature come first. The politics of Steelhead have put a damper on my enthusiasim for its wonderment. Where I'm headed now is back to catching from what I can see. I like going out in my boat more and catching flounder, or a coho salmon and cooking them and just enjoy the pleasures of simple fishing. After this phase I sure it will be watching my two grandsons fish with worm then watch them pick up a fly rod and learn on their own. They will fish and they will catch and along the line the enjoyment of it all hopefully will be as important to them as it is for me.

05-04-2004, 12:43 PM
Originally posted by OC
...They will fish and they will catch and along the line the enjoyment of it all hopefully will be as important to them as it is for me.

Very well put.

05-04-2004, 01:15 PM
Many go fishing all their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.
- Henry David Thoreau

05-04-2004, 01:16 PM
Nice post OC.

I like catching but sometimes the fish win a round or two. It used to frustrate me but now I laugh. The occasional skunking will always keep you coming back for more! Like golf, no one would play if the sport was easily mastered.

05-04-2004, 02:45 PM
just being there,,but,yes,it's vital,,to an aspiring pro,when i first started with a flyrod,,had some success,then got skunked about 27 times straight,at least,,then used dif. tackle as the runs,seasons changed,,but,,my passion is the fly so,it's `THE CHALLENGE',,,fly rod,,,all year long,,,just remember to smell the roses along the way;i usually steal a few for my bride!!!

Nooksack Mac
05-04-2004, 03:33 PM
I think that my philosophy of fishing was best expressed in an old James Garner comedy, "The Wheeler-Dealers." The naive heroine (played by Lee Remick) asked a group of oil speculators why they kept dealing and scheming with/against each other, since they were all multimillionaires. One answered: "We do it for fun; money's just a way of keeping score."

05-04-2004, 07:14 PM
To parody an old phrase, there IS more to fishing than NOT catching fish:devil:

05-04-2004, 11:33 PM
You bet it does matter! Face it how long would you keep going if you never caught any? I go for all the same reasons that everyone else spoke of but I go expecting to catch fish and I`m dissapointed if I don`t. Does it make it any less fun? No! I`m more dissapointed when someone that I invited dosn`t get fish. It makes me think I`ve failed by not finding fish. But the day is always great and the fishing is unique and memories are made, it just helps if there`s a smell of fish from your pant legs.

05-05-2004, 09:59 AM
In recent years my fishing has been intentionally limited to steelhead. Days, weeks and even months can pass between fish. No I don't care too much if I catch a fish as long as I have a chance to catch one. That is all that matters.

I will fish trout a few days in May and salmon in October so that I get my catching fix, the rest of the time I am content to chase the silver ghost.

05-05-2004, 12:05 PM
you make me feel bad,,or good,,,weeks or months between steelies;couldn't handle that,noway:mad:

Mean Mr Mustard
05-05-2004, 12:38 PM
...Sure, but if that was the only barometer by which I measured my enjoyment I would have stayed with bait and the black arts. It's the chase that gets me hot!

I equate the instant gratification mentality to those hairy-palmed individuals who read the "bunny mag" for reasons other than the cartoons and intellectually inspiring prose.

Yet...and as expressed already, I feel terrible when my fishing companion(s) are less than successful.



05-06-2004, 06:59 AM
better him than me...:devil:

05-06-2004, 07:40 AM
It's all about expectations...

If fishing for stripers, I would expect not to be skunked with one or two exceptions over the entire season, if that. So if I get skunked, I think poorly of the day.

For bonefish on my own one good day on a 5 day trip would make it worthwhile as long as I "cracked the code", but with a guide cracking it for me I would expect to have lots of good shots at fish every day (when conditions permit). I prefer the self-cracked code with less fish.

Sight fishing is really fun, even if the fish thumb their snouts at you. Each fish has it's own personality when it's back is nearly out of the water and each shot brings a new and different perspective to the day. When you get no hits blind casting, there is nothing gained and a lot of time lost. When you fail to hook up while sight casting, your mind makes a quantum leap forward based on what you've observed of the fish' reactions while getting rejected - and all that is money in the bank for what you'll do upon return the following weekend, and the weekend after, etc. So getting skunked while getting schooled is still satisfying.

If fishing for winter steelhead on the swing, landing one trophy in a 10 day trip would be satisfying for me. Hooking one and losing it would still be a thrill to remember, but nary a pull would put an empty feeling right there next to the great feeling of having crisp mountain air, thousands of spey casts, and mind-blowing vistas burned into my brain. If fishing for summer runs, I would expect to hook up 2-3 times or more in a weekend in the pacific northwest, sometimes a dozen times. And that actually feels excessive, too many times believe it or not. Hooking too easily upsets the balance of the casting, the soaking in of the river in fall colors, and an occasional glorious rosy-cheeked fish on my fall creeper or sedge muddler on the surface. When fishing for atlantic salmon, one good fish would make my trip like winter steelhead, I wouldn't trade that for a dozen grilse.

When fishing from a boat for bluefish, I'd actually stop casting to them after a few and look for another species. They are relatively easy to hook, hard to land, and repetitive.

Yep for me it's all about expectations.


Sharp Steelie
05-06-2004, 11:42 AM
Actually do have a few expectations - to always
have fun and enjoy being out in nature. Oh
yea - and be able to laugh at myself whenever
I hook a tree on a back cast, or fall in the river,
or lose a fish because of doing something dumb,
to never develop a snobby elitist attitude, to be
honest, truthfull, helpfull, serve others, and to
always have the faith of a child.

Have a great day


05-08-2004, 02:36 AM
i agree i00%with sharp steelie, we are both from washington state and love fishing for steelhead. i have a feeling he catches more than i.

05-08-2004, 09:58 AM

Brian Simonseth
05-08-2004, 05:20 PM
No way!
Just being out there is a gift. Think about it how many people canít get out and do it. My fishing partners laugh at me when we are on a trip; Iím watching the hill side to many birds, trees to look at.


05-08-2004, 06:42 PM
Yes, FishHawk, I really care if I catch a fish! Why else would I be fishing if not hoping to catch a fish?

05-08-2004, 08:44 PM
I sure am glad thet here are so many of you fine upstanding young fellers that dont care if you catch fish.

There a`int many left, and us old cogers that sure enjoy somethin tuggun on the end of our string would like to donate some butterfly nets or sumthin to enable you to more throughly enjoy yur outdoors experience.:hehe:

Sharp Steelie
05-09-2004, 01:11 PM
Brian - thank you! Something that I learned many years
ago is to take nothing for granted - it's the simple things
that count. My personal goal with all this fly fishing stuff
is to figure out a way to be able help some people that
"can't go out there and do it" without someones help.
Mean while being able to sustain my own family financially.
There is a lot of kids out there that may never get to
experience the thrills and joys that some of us have had,
especially those with disabilities. Just trying to figure
out a way to actually make a difference. Besides being
talked into sharing my stuff - that's why I went public.

PS. Hey Sinktip - everything that I said on the WFF site
was true. I don't believe in "the stuff of a legend".
Nothing that I said was "self promotion". Just want
to use my God given gifts to make a difference, and
somehow fly fishing is a part of it. Not going to do any
good if I keep hiding!


05-09-2004, 02:03 PM
Hey Skilly, thanks for the offer. I'll take that butterfly net - and pass along those 3-D glasses and water pipe as well!:hehe:

Anybody that doesn't want to catch fish on this list?? I doubt it. I didn't spend all that the money on spey rods, lines, fly materials, etc just to stand in the river waiting to see the next eagle fly by.

But, given the lousy returns and often cutthroat competition for first pass thru the best runs, we have a choice. We can all go a bit "Bob York" and wake up at 3am to stake out the best runs in the dark and do whatever else it takes to get the first/best shot at a steelhead.

Since there are only a few to go around, that's going to leave quite a few pi$$ed off anglers that will be increasingly willing to do anything to catch a fish. Anglers are drawing guns on other anglers at hatchery holes like Reiter and Blue Creek - it wouldn't suprise me if it starts to happen soon at some of the popular fly runs as well.

That's not where I want to go (those guns are HEAVY :devil: ), and I'm not ready to give up spey casting for steelhead either.

So I choose to accept what water I get and condition I get it in. If I catch a fish great, if not that's OK too. I'll enjoy the eagles, butterflies, Dollys, Cutthroat, and sound of the water bubbling past my waders.

It's ultimately about enjoyment. If the only time you enjoy yourself is when you're catching a steelhead, you're in for some serious disappointment. Unless, of course, you're one of those lucky few that hits multiple fish on every outing. ;)

My .02,


~~~Smoke on the Water . . . . the Fire in the Sky ~ ~ ~

North Island
05-09-2004, 03:29 PM
Anglers are drawing guns on other anglers at hatchery holes like Reiter and Blue Creek

Is that really happening?


05-09-2004, 04:23 PM

Matt Burke

05-09-2004, 07:54 PM
Great thread and responses!

I certainly don't feel the need to catch fish every time I go out, but if I stopped catching fish then I probably wouldn't go fishing as often and the fishing trips that I did go on would be shorter, simpler and less expensive (e.g., no 1:30 a.m. drives to Chatham!).

I'm usually satisfied if I can find the fish and figure out how to get them to hit, even if I don't land them. In fact, most of the time I would prefer to have the fish come unhooked after it hits the fly and fights for a little while. The only time I really care about getting the fish to hand is when it's a new species or a large fish that I want to measure and/or photograph. And, although I practice catch & release more than 99% of the time, there are those few occasions when I want to land the fish so I can enjoy it for dinner!


05-09-2004, 08:25 PM
Ahh yes fished with him a bit when I used to live in Brookings and he wintered there. I Remember the winter he was fishing with a broken foot and trying to stuff a cast in his waders. I think that was his first winter with a 2 handed rod.

Is he still around ? Havent talked to him in about 15 years.

Bob Pauli
05-13-2004, 07:15 PM

05-13-2004, 08:23 PM
As an old fishing proverb goes, "A fly fisherman is not judged by the largest or most fish caught, but by the smallest or least amount of fish he can catch and still enjoy himself." I just appreciate casting practice!!!!!