Favorite Gamefish: A Window To Your Soul [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Favorite Gamefish: A Window To Your Soul

01-07-2001, 09:30 AM
Reading the Steelhead vs. Stripers posts between Juro and NrthFrk16 started me thinking on this subject. What they had to say impressed upon me the passion that Steelhead can bring out in people. My knowledge is severely limited, in fact the only fish I've caught on the fly are stripers. For that reason I'd be interested to read any and all posts you might have to offer.

Today's question:

If there was only one species of fish that you could catch for the remainder of your natural life, what would it be? Why?

The answer may lie in the location of the fish - the Monomoy flats; a wide river miles from the nearest phone/pager; the pond where your family's summer home is located. It could be the anglers that you meet, or the friendships that have developed while stalking a certain fish that may be the deciding factor.

What I'm driving at here is that I would never dream of limiting this discussion to clinical dissertations on the fighting habits of fresh or saltwater gamefish. I think you'll find that this question is a lot more about people than it could ever be about fish.

I posed this question so I believe it's only fair that I should offer my answer first.

As I mentioned earlier, I am the Newbie poster child. My only experience has been with stripers, and, regrettably, not that many to date. They are beautiful fish with an amazing power to weight ratio that I imagine will never cease to amaze me.

Having fished primarily with spinning gear growing up, catching my first striper on a fly was like sensory overload. I had practiced fly casting on a frozen reservoir with my little brother on Christmas morning, the wrapping paper hardly off of it before I was headed out the door for a "lesson." Now I was alone, though, and I had a clouser on(the casting lesson hadn't included a fly), and it was getting dark. I was busy concentrating on my arm motion, the loop in my fly line, stripping off line and trying to double haul, etc. That's when it happened, my fly hit the water on the forward cast because I got lazy. My back cast turned into a hook set and I had a fish on!

My rod doubled over like a wet noodle as the fish dove for the rocks along the channel. Line peeled off my reel and I nervously tried to slow it down. Every move the fish made came right through my 7wt like a lightning rod. A minute later it was over, I had my first striper. It was all of 20" but I couldn't have cared less. Looking back, my mistakes are what made it so enjoyable. I was fishing with light tackle and I had the drag set far to light for any large fish. If I had hooked a large striper I would have had either broken knuckles from trying to stop the reel, or I would have been out a brand new spool of line and backing.

Having said all that, none of it is important to me in the grand scheme of things. I started flyfishing to spend more time with my brother and father. My brother more so, but both he and my father were always out fishing, whether alone or together. I had been a rabid golfer for years upon years. I realized that our chosen pursuits were taking us in opposite directions. You never really know how much longer you have with the people you love so I figured I better trade in the pendulum golf swing for the whip of a fly rod. Don't get me wrong, I still manage to get out on the course, but last year I fished more days than I golfed.

At this point in my fishing career it's about the people I'm with rather than what is on the end of my line. If I had to choose, I'd pick stripers because it is the fish my little Bro' is rabid about. Any place I can find him chest deep in the ocean, or in his kayak, is a place I want to fish.

I look forward to meeting any people on this board as well.

Okay, the soapbox is yours, step right up.

01-07-2001, 09:46 AM
You drew a nice picture there.

For me, it's tarpon.

After swimming with a school, I was fortunate enough to hook into several immediately after and the next morning.

There's nothing like being in an anchored 10' Avon with pelicans dive-bombing bait all around you, tarpon rolling everywhere you look. 5 - 10 super sloppy casts later you're connected to a freight train that pulls your anchored Avon about 250' before he breaks off.

Tarpon haunt me.


01-07-2001, 09:58 AM

Hot diggety. Even though I was wise to your motivation for picking up the long rod it is touching to see the words in print.

I promise to be the middle man in a deal to trade that 7-weight up to a 9 weight. That way we can better pursue my favorite gamefish (the striper) on the flats of Monomoy. I love Monomoy for the stripers, the sight fishing, the solitude, and the scenery. You have the 4 C (Carat, Color blah blah blah) classification system for diamonds and Monomoy scores high on my 4 S fishing classification system, marking it as a rare gem. I only wish that our ghetto kayaks would track straight enough to better justify the kayak trip to Monomoy. For the record, I am going to time the kayak trip from Chatham to Monomoy this summer. Before paddling to Monomoy we may have to invest in rudders which would only make us look more like Mad Max out there on the water.

All that matters to me is that we get out there and fish. I am just sorry that you have yet to get into some true blitz action. This season for sure.

Thanks bro,

Mike Doogue

01-07-2001, 12:10 PM
Doogue, Let's not forget to get together on this Monomoy Kayak trip. If we put in at Hardings beach it's a short trip ,especially at low tide. I only got my Yak late in the season, but it's a Tri-balance , and I can stand on it or sit high ,so it will be perfect for the flats. Talk to you later or see you at the tying clave.

01-07-2001, 02:59 PM

I agree. Let's make the Monomoy kayak trip happen. You have a fishing machine in your tri-balance. I have an old 10' whitewater kayak with a smooth bottom that does not track well at all. But, it gets me out on the water and the price was right: I picked it up from a friend for $75.

I will be sure to say hello at the tying clave.


Bob Pink
01-07-2001, 05:47 PM
Interesting topic,
I'm far too limited in my species exposure having never taken a trout, tarpon, pike, salmon, sail, BFT, YFT on the flyrod. So unlike roop I'm yet to be haunted by the ghosts of catches past.
Stripers are any easy first choice because they offer opportunities over a 6 month season for those us here in Bassachusetts. Roccus also offers so many different situations to target them, from a screaming offshore rip to a early morning on a backwater tidal marsh. There a few other fish that allow one to be humbled in so many different arenas.

BUT, if I could control the migration and needs of any species it would be to make the fishable season for Bonito & Albies as long as our striped friends. 6 months of smokin' drags would be hard to beat.

01-07-2001, 10:09 PM
I have to vote bonito, only caught em one time ,about a dozen< but man.... talk about a smokin drag!!! Tom D

01-08-2001, 11:11 AM
Man, what a classy thread! Mike - please count me in on a trips with your brother and dad once in a while, I'd love to fish with you guys on Monomoy sometime. Many of my fondest memories are those with my dad, brothers and family even though we do not have the chance to practice it often. Like others, I was inspired by flyfishing being so meaningful to you guys.

You ask a question...

Phew, I hope I never have to face that question in real life. You know, for me a large part of the magic of flyfishing is in it's history and ability to persist thru time. Another is the variety of species and venues.

Let me think on this one before I reply, I'm gonna have to do it when I have more time - we so often hurry through replies on the web and I don't want to misrepresent myself on this.

01-08-2001, 07:27 PM
Hmmm... favorite single species...

So I awaken in my truck 13 minutes before my travel alarm goes off to wipe the dew from the windshield. There's a dull yellow glow just barely dividing the blackness under a star-blazed sky to the east, marking the ocean's surface on the horizon. I quickly suck down the stone cold coffee in the cup holder from last night's midnight run and open the drivers side door.

A surge of virgin ocean air rushes onto my face, slapping me with that tang of a fresh tide, still crisp with the night's coolness but unable to hide the summer day's warm and wanton ways. The interior light pops on and the key indicator chimes 'ding...ding...ding...' as my anxiety builds. I jump into the bed of my truck and whip on the goretex, strap on the basket, and come back to the cab for the artillery.

Here, flyfishing is not a pasttime. It's an event, a challenge, a sport. What lies ahead as I pass the last footstep from pavement to soft sand dunes in the blackness of predawn? Are giant ocean bass finning with their backs out of the water as they corner black clouds of baitfish, churning bodies circling in a sizzling sound trying to scramble the odds on safety of numbers as sledge hammer onslaughts of rowdy, linebacker blitzes pound their frail bodies into the shore? As the faint light turns orange on the horizon I hear the surf and feel the change in the sand as the remnant moon's reflection casts a silver telling sparkle on water in the calm of morning. Suddenly, there are sounds out of the rhythm of the waves... was that a boil? My pace quickens, my heart pounds and I mumble to myself as I scurry in scuba boots over the sand toward the anomalies in the water's surface. I remember that I tied that large killer fly on in the light of the truck, and it's the right fly for the 4-6" bunker that have been prevalent in this stretch lately. Was that a tail slap? Ploomp! PHump! Yes! I try to retain composure as I approach like a ninja in the night to unhook the fly from the keeper and strip line into the basket like a sword from the scabbard. I stand off, crouching several feet from the edge, not risking to cast my shadow in the lightening sky. The noise from the feeding fish curls my toenails as I loft a backcast and feel the 9wt load. With a boyish grin, I shoot the line and the fly falls somewhere in the darkness amidst the carnage. I am in.

Hot damn, it's a downright hair raising melee! I count a few off, and give the line a strip. Strip, strip. Strip. Stri- W H A M!!! zzzeeEEEEEEE!!!! A submarine striper hightails from the shallow water, beating a wake with it's powerful tail past the washline. The rod arches deep into the cork as the reel handle spins wildy. I hear a little creak coming from the cork as I put a little mustard on the fish, so I follow. Thunk, thunk, thunk, thunk, thunk.... there goes my albright knot. Backing follows... I get the feeling I got a little more than I asked for with this fish. Nope, this ain't just a pastime... it's big time.

The sun breaks over the quivering horizon, ablaze in reds and oranges. For a moment, I can stare right into it's face as it looms like a giant burning ember on the low horizon. The handsome giant bass comes to rest on the sculpted ridges of the sandy shoal, fins pert with racy stripes blurring it's form, a mirage of milky pearl scales and stripes behind a battering ram head and mouth. All business, this guy - but not a thug. He is a handsome devil.

Decisions, decisions.... only one he said...

01-09-2001, 01:40 AM
Golden Trout in the High Mountains of Montana
But I'm not sure if it's the species or the experience of it all.
Pre-dawn light coming over the ridges signal the time to get the campfire going, have a hearty breakfast and load the pack mule and saddle the horse. It will be a full day's ride to the lake along ridges and coulees and all the time being surrounded by glorious peaks that change in color every time you look around. Deep purple in the morning, slate grey at mid day, golden yellow as the sun reaches its brigthest and deep blue as the sun starts to fade.
Knowing that you still have two hours to set up camp at the lake is a challenge that keeps the sdadle sores at bay until you get of the trail and finally see that little gemm of teal coloured water at dusk. The rings of rising fish are tempting but sunlight is fast fading. The twicth in your arm tells you to pull out the three weight even if it's only for a few casts but the coolness of the evening air says that a tent and a warm fire are more likely companions for that evening and the horse and pack mule need tending and feeding.
The early morning comes faster than expected and the dreams of the Goldies haunted you all night. Time to line up the rod and try to tease one of nature's treasure with a small sunken fly. Too early for risers. Then the screech of a Red Tailed Hawk winging high above wondering who this strange visitor is reminds you that coffee and biscuits would do just the trick.
There is plenty time time to look around and gaze in wonderment at the beauty that surrounds you. The quietness is deafening, no bricks and mortar, no cell phones or computer beeps that remind you of your next meeting, no obligations other than to replenish your soul and cherish the gift from the creator and gives thank's for being able to do so.
As you walk along the shore around this jewel of a pond your eye catches a rise about 30 feet out, then another. It's then that you realize that your rod is leaning on the tent half way around the lake. The urge to rush back and catch a fish is quickly tempered by the passion to just sit there and watch these litlle Goldies feast on a hatch of midges that may only occur for a few weeks of the year. It's the greatest thrill I've ever experienced, watching nature take its course,and standing in bewilderment at the magnificence of a rise from a fish that at best lives in a most remote and inhospitable place and here I am, sharing this without ever wanting to disturb the process. A few hours later, the fish are still rising and the rod is winging a tiny size 20 midge. As it softly flutters to rest in the film, an eager Goldie takes it and the fear of breaking of the #8 tippet starts. The fish is landed, admired and quickly released. Three days from now, I'll have to pack out, but for now, it's just the mountains, the lake, the Goldies, the hawk and me.
It's gotta be the Goldie!

01-09-2001, 07:36 AM
you all made a good point, many different wonderful fish. After more thought, the striper has won, it can be found in so many great spots. in deep offshore areas, estuaries, even lil creeks. can I get a recount on my vote???? I beleive my chad was hanging. ; )

01-09-2001, 08:24 AM
Pete, that has to win the first prize for the commentary contest even if there is none!!

01-09-2001, 03:18 PM
I'm viewing this as "what's the fish I'd most like to catch solely for the rest of my life."

For me, it's the dorado.

It's athletic, stunningly colorful, delicious and agressive.

The latest issue of "Tide" has a great article on them being targetted by liners and on Page 6 is one of the most incredible shots of jumping/fighting fish I've ever seen (amazing clarity for such a chance shot). Although it's possible it was a frame capture off a video...