This word is synonymous with my entrance into fly fishing. After I tried the fly, I made the stubborn decision to devote my fishing to strictly fly angling.
It was terrible.
Well, terrible in some ways. Every time on the water I was learning things - mostly, how to do things terribly wrong, inefficiently, and how to not catch fish. By normal measures of success, (i.e. catching fish, having fun, etc.) I was a failure.
In fact, going back through my log I see it was about 15 trips before I landed a fish. Any species of fish, not just a trout. Nadda, zilch, nothing, that many times out on the water. I don’t know why I even kept a log anyways…
I would read other people’s stories of fish-filled days, and see how often people posted the hero shot of them and their fish on social media. I was baffled at how they actually fooled a fish.
My embarrassment was further cemented when I was fishing a local trout lake. An older trout hog was sitting on his 5 gallon bucket across the lake smoking with a short pole propped on a freshly cut stick. He saw me flogging the water trying to entice the little rising rainbows and shouted out to me through his gray mustache, “Fly rods are a waste o’ time, they ain't work anywhere but on TV.”
I, of course, was smitten with embarrassment. You might as well have taken a meat mallet to my young ego. However, this light jab made me more determined than ever to land one of those trout I saw rising to, what I now know was, minuscule midges. Being a newbie though, I was throwing a large stimulater pattern to them. No success on that cold December day.
I wish I could go back now and try again.
Over an hour or so, I watched the old man reel in 2 small recently stocked rainbow trout, and toss them in his bucket for the frying pan. Sorrow and disappointment filled me, how could I try so hard (and often), and not catch a fish? How does pink Power Bait work better than a natural imitation of an insect anyway? Of course, the size insect I was using hadn’t been around for a few months, which didn’t help the drought any, and these stocked fish hadn’t seen too many natural insects.
I was ashamed of my constant fishless adventures. Therefore, I never asked for assistance from any of the more experienced anglers I knew. I just kept going solo when I could. Of course, being stubborn and being an optimist were two things I had going for me. I knew one day it might change. I would land a fish or maybe even two! It was that hope that kept me going.
Every chance I had, I was on the local river pursuing trout. I got skunked again, again, again, and again. No fish. No strikes. Nothing that I was aware of at the time. You may think I’m kidding, “How could you spend so much time on the water and never catch anything?” Well, the simple answer is, I didn’t know what I was doing!
The only thing that broke my fish drought was more fishing! My greatest ally, time on the water, helped me greatly. Eventually, I started doing things better, I learned to read water, learned to adjust depth, learned to give fish what they wanted, read more books, spent more time observing the river, listened to hours of podcasts, and one day I caught that trout!
I’m still in the process of learning everything I can to become a better angler and tier! But, I never want to replicate those fishless days again, though I do still get skunked sometimes.