One thing that I have always struggled with, even more so now than in previous years – is the concept of mortality. There is very much a finite amount of time that each of us will be on this earth, whether we like it or not we all have a clock that will eventually stop.
78.74 years. Thats the life expectancy for US males. Thats it. As I have nearly reached half time of my own life, it has dawned on me that I frequently don’t take advantage of the opportunities that I have to LIVE. I spend about 2x the amount of time that I should spend working or worrying about work. I spend about 100x the amount of time that I should spend wasting time on the interwebs or with my face buried in my phone. I far too often pass up opportunities to get outside and enjoy the outdoors, in favor for being a couch potato rotting my brain away at the constant BS that streams from my TV screen. Even if I don’t say it out loud when situations arise, I am always thinking it – “I’ll do it tomorrow”.
The series of Rocky movies are my all time favorites, and it’s not even close. There is a great scene in Rocky III where shortly after Rocky’s long time trainer, Mick passes away and he is now being trained by his one time enemy Apollo Creed. Rocky is giving a half assed effort in the ring and in life as he prepares to do battle with Clubber Lang (Mr. T I see you big dog), and simply shuts down as Apollo bludgeons him in a live, in the ring training session. Rocky sheepishly proclaims “tomorrow”. Apollo fires back in the iconic scene “There is no tomorrow! There is no tomorrow!”
Folks, its simple – spend more time doing what you love with the people that you love. Learn new things. Travel new places. Taking on new challenges. Fish more.
I need to heed this advice, and more appropriately prioritize my own life. What’s important and why?
So far in 2016 I haven’t had near the amount of opportunity to fish as I would like, but I’ve dedicated an enormous amount of time in researching and planning, tying flies, going through and organizing equipment. I plan to fish this summer a ton with my wife and my father. I would love to get my mom in the boat with me, and my nephew and niece. My brother can come to – only if he pays me for all the flies he will lose and provides the beer though. Learning all of this new information and tactics has reinvigorated me – it has woken up a part of my head that was on autopilot and/or sleep mode for far too long.
It’s time to make the 2nd half my half. There truly may be no tomorrow.
Friend and fishing pal Rich Youngberg has a wealth of experience of leading groups of people out into the wild, working as a guide on trips down the Yukon River, as a White Water Rafting Guide on some of the most untamed rivers of the Western US, and leading paddling trips through the Everglades of Florida. Rich works with young men and women in a Grand Rapids area high school, and has a started an after school fly fishing club there. His mission is to grow the sport with the youths at his school, and give them an outlet to all of the pressures that they face being a teenager. He states:
“We develop and refine an angler’s skills so that he or she will be comfortable, confident and competent to fish successfully on his or her own in most streams and rivers. We strive to create experiences that will assist students in developing peer relations, problem solving, group dynamics, health and wellness and service learning opportunities through fly fishing. I have met several of the kids in this group and am impressed by their passion and thirst for knowledge.”
Now, these young dudes are planning a trip to Colorado this year and they need our help! They have started a fundraiser to get their group to Colo this summer by selling these pretty rad t-shirts for $20. This is a good cause folks, something that is pretty easy to get behind. Please share this around your network and let’s make this happen, and besides you get a sweet T out of the deal. See below pic for details:
If you are interested in a T-shirt, all you have to do is send an email to Rich at:
Checks made out to Northview Fly Fishing Club
A could of vids to help get you through the week.
“Being stupid should be painful” – Unknown
This past weekend’s trip I was reminded of a very valuable lesson that I have learned many times over throughout my years of fishing. It is a lesson that I have shared with many people, both experienced and new in relation to their level of experience. I committed a cardinal sin and didn’t have my head in the game the entire day while fishing. As a result I paid dearly for it.
We got on the river around 8:30 AM and within the first 30 minutes into the day I was into what I thought at first was a steelhead. The bobber on my indy rig dropped, I quickly set the hook and something big and heavy began to move. At that moment a familiar feeling of elation quickly overwhelmed me as line began to quickly peel out of my left hand and come tight to the reel all in the matter of about 4 tenths of a second.
The feeling of elation quickly turned into grave disappointment when I realized all that had happened is that I had inadvertendly dislodged a piece of lumber from the bottom of the river, and it immediately was caught in the current, displaying many of the same characteristics as a hooked steelhead. In my frustration I immediately started to “horse” the log in so I could unpin it and get back on with my day. The stress placed on my rod was substantial and quickly resulted in the rod snapping with a sound similar to that made by the .22 caliber gun my father used to hunt small game with in the days of my youth.
So, it wasn’t a fish, I broke a rod, and now I have to walk up 144 steep and icy steps back to the truck to re-rig another rod? Now I’m pissed, but mentally chalked it up to some sort of necessary penance required by the Fish God’s – a toll I’d gladly subject myself to if it resulted in a great day of fishing.
Only it didn’t result in that.
On a river that I know relatively well that had been holding several steelhead as of late, in several cases being the first angler through sections of particular runs, with a good selection of proven flies would usually result a decent outing. All it resulted in for me throughout the day was losing about $467 worth of flies lost and a helluva of a lot of knot tying. I’d rather have walked down to the river, opened my wallet, pulled out $467 and thrown it straight into the river (from the top, not the bottom of those damned stairs of course), and turned around and went home.
After about 7 hours of no fish encounters, Dan questioned whether or not I had the correct depth set on my indicator – stating that I might not be fishing a run not quite deep enough. At this point my head was someplace else other than focusing on what I should have been, I was more or less going through the motions. I turned to Dan and assured him that I had the correct depth and to further prove my point I said “watch, if I cast a few feet closer I’ll drag bottom”.
Upon casting in closer to me the bobber lurched towards the river bottom as I had previously, indicating that my rig was set too deep for the water I was fishing. I turned to Dan and smugly said “see, I told you”.
My confident assertion was met by him emphatically screaming “FISH!”. I quickly turned around and quickly recognized my bobber nearly a foot below the river’s surface, screaming towards the opposite bank with a large silver steelhead not far in front of it.
I lifted the rod and came tight on the fish. The physical attachment to that fish lasted about as long as my mom’s apple pie at a family dinner. All because I was being an idiot and not paying attention, it was over as quickly as it started.
Instead of having an opportunity to land a beautiful January steelhead and erase all of the hardships THAT I CAUSED myself during the day, I added to it because I committed the substantial crime of not having my head in the game at all times.
When I first started fishing, every single time I headed to the river I was on a mission, mission to learn from observing other anglers. I would follow other people around, sit on the bank and watch their every move – trying to figure out how and why they were doing things the way they were.
At some point, after I felt I had absorbed enough through observation of others my mission changed every time I went to the river and my objective became to catch as many fish as I possibly could. It became a purely numbers game for me – it was a badge of honor that I would wear proudly when I reported in with my father or other friends that I’d sometimes fish with.
A few years down the line, the numbers of fish game eventually gave way to quality of fish. It was no longer about how many fish I caught and it was now about the quality of fish I caught. I wanted big fish.
Now…..now, I’m basically back to square 1, but for different reasons. I find myself sitting on the bank more and more observing others – usually friends I am fishing with. My fishing pals are all exceptionally talented and of course I learn all kinds of new things from them similar to how I learned from others in my youth, but thats not whats important. What’s important to me now is hanging out, on the water, in nature with people that I enjoy spending time with.
Sure it’s all still about the fish – after all they are the reason to bring us all together. But even more it’s about the laughs, the experiences, the jokes, the banter, the food, and the fellowship.
I’ve been really fortunate to be a witness and active participant in seeing and experiencing a number of really great fish this year. While I really enjoy chasing after all fish species, brown trout has a special allure for me. Seeing a big brown trout make it into the net is an awesome experience and sharing that moment with pals in the boat makes it all the better. Here’s a look at this years fish that I had the privilge to witness first hand.
For the second consecutive year I commished a fantasy football league filled with a bunch of fish heads. A motely crue cast of charachters all bound together by our strong affinity to chase fish. I quickly found out that there is 1 thing these yahoos take as serious as fishing, fantasy football!
I spent most of my season last year getting repeatedly curb stomped but had a good time doing it as the near daily trash talk added good commentary to give me quick breaks from my work day. This year, I decided I’d spice up some of the weeks by publically calling out particular opponents on weeks I faced them and challenge them to a “side bet” of sorts. Well, unfortunately for me those curb stompings from last year carried into this year and it didn’t go well for me.
Throughout this I discovered I may have a bit of a repressed gambling problem, as the typical wager was 3 articulated streamers and each week I lost I would just double down the next week to try and win some bugs back. Let’s just say I burned through a lot of materials this year.
However, thats not where my punishment ends. Oh no…that’d be way to easy. My poor decision making and inability to set a good roster of players continues to punch me square in the throat.
Twice this year I lost to Jeff from Fly Fish the Mitt and had to contribute to his already loaded streamer box. Being that I was going to be fishing with him on this past Sunday morning, I worked late into the night spinning up a version of Galloup’s Boogie Man.
Jeff, not one to shy away from rubbing a bit of salt in a pal’s wound decided he would immediately lace one of his winnings up and fish it right out of the gates on our streamer escapade. I quietly chuckled to myself as I sat in the rowers seat and watched him struggle with the bug getting fouled around itself, as it appeared that I unintentionally provided him with a “dud” that had too much space between the hooks and not enough beads to prevent the hooks from becoming entangled with one another during casting. “Serves him right” I thought – but of course outwardly I appeared apologetic. “Jeeze man, I’m really sorry. I thought I tied those perfectly.”
A simple adjustment, opening the loop of this cast up a bit, allowed him to accurately sling the bug without it getting tangled. No worries, the color combination is surely not one we’ve ever seen work in this particular river – he even commmented on it himself.
That’s when the throat punches started rolling in. On his first shift he brought a few fish to hand. Then on his second shift, Mike Tyson punched me square in the neck and this fish decided this terribly tied bug looked good enough to eat.
He continued to fish the fly for the entire day and of course landed not only by far the largest fish of the day, significantly more fish than I did as well. Wasn’t it enough that I just paid my dept and suffered the humilation of proclaiming my Fantasy Football superiority only to be embarrased?
Stay tuned for the report following me paying my bet to Dan, as I practically have to row him around the river the whole day without me even fishing. Fantasy Football sucks.