Monday, May 17, 2010

The listless angler

To read this piece, you will need the following definitions:
1) The Happy Angler: One who is single-mindedly focused on fishing. Not reading about fishing, not philosophizing about fishing, not purchasing gear, not developing new fly patterns, but instead being on the water with whatever ideas and gear one has.
2) The Philosophical Angler: One who spends a good deal of time reading about fishing, reviewing gear and other fishing related products, researching fly patterns and places to fish, etc...
3) The Listless Angler: One who has little interest in fishing or thinking about fishing, but one who is still, deep-down, an angler.

Figures 1 and 2: The ratio of time I typically spend fishing and thinking about fishing and correspondance with the three attitudes defined above.

I typically alternate through these three attitudes toward fishing during the calendar year reflecting the ratio of time I spend fishing to thinking about fishing (Figs 1 and 2). Each attitude has positive and negative attributes, even listlessness. I'll start with winter. Strangely, I am not listless during the winter period, despite weather permitting very few fishing opportunities. I (and I think most other's) spend the winter researching the where's, what's and who's about fishing. In comparison to my listless periods of fishing, I actually spend a good deal of time on the water, but not enough to be a Happy Angler. I hate this period of time and the attitudes I develop during it. It is during this time that I develop strong opinions about the way I and others fish, opinions I will later dismantle during my Happy Angler phase. In short, too much reading and thinking about fishing and only small doses of actual fishing make for a well-educated, highly opinioned, jerk of a fisherman. I know people who never make it out of this phase.

Late winter/early spring brings about a period of time when gear, method, and who is doing what loose all significance. It is during this time of year that I become so obsessed with being on the water that I no longer care about anything else. The Happy Angler is Opie Taylor on his way to the local fishing hole. This is a magical time for me. I will again be the Happy Angler in July, after finishing up a short (and strangely out of place) stint of listlessness and again during the fall when I realize that my fishing days are numbered by the oncoming winter.

I am a listless angler right now and am for most years during late May and early June. Saturday morning I was to head out fishing at 5:30 am. Instead, I slept in, made breakfast for the family and worked on the house and played with the kids. By mid-May I'm typically finishing up my Happy Angler period and have been on a fishing bender of sorts. I just can't keep up the pace. Combine this with the nice weather and urge to accomplish house projects and what you get is a listless angler. I don't mind this time period. I can honestly say that I care little for fishing at this time, which preserves relationships with others. But why should I go through this attitude at a time when the fishing is so good? I suppose it has to do with the time spent during the previous few months as a Happy Angler. Also, the streams start to get crowded in late spring, which eats away at a Happy Angler and starts to break him down. Fear not however, because the Happy Angler will return in July as a response to the Listless Angler. And he/she will have banked some family leave hours from all that house work and family time.

July is a strange time to get back into fishing because the trouting is not that great. Terrestrials are out and about, which makes for some fun top-water fishing. But the big trout seem to turn nocturnal and I've never been much of a nighttime fisher. Because the fishing isn't great, the Happy Angler isn't around for long during the summer. But the Happy Angler returns in fall when the fishing days are numbered.

Theoretically there is a ratio between how much time one spends fishing and how much time one spends thinking about fishing that determines how interested one is in gear and how opinionated one gets regarding method. For me, that ratio is somewhere around 50%. Where is it for you? Are you OK with that?

1 comment:

  1. Very nice piece Nate. It's good to be the happy angler.