A bad day of fishing?
Frequent any fly shop, seminar, or fishing blog and you will undoubtedly hear advanced anglers preaching about the need for solid technique, drift mechanics, and a basic understanding of local entomology to be successful when fishing tail waters, all of this is of course accurate, however, the other side of the story, is sometimes good mechanics still don’t catch you any fish. Advanced anglers have rough days on the water as well.
Living on the S. Platte River below Cheesman Reservoir, arguably one of the most technical stretches of water in the state, affords me the opportunity to observe anglers outside my door all year long. The majority of them have at least a few defects in there process ranging from casting technique, manipulated drifts, and a difficulty reading or covering water properly. On a average weekend I would argue that only 1 in 50 anglers have all of the observable traits of an expert. This low percentage makes it all the more painful when that rare advanced angler is unable to move any fish.
As an example of this, the other day I observed what I would consider an expert fisherman throughout the day while he was worked a section of river. His casting was impeccable, he reviewed the water and fished in a grid like pattern while setting on every abnormal movement of his indicator, he made incremental adjustments to his depth, speed, and (presumably his) flies according to what he observed. Unfortunately, try as he might, in all that time he was unable hook a fish. I kept waiting for the monument when his fly rod would ark to attention with a fish on….Something; anything to validate the exceptional skills he was demonstrating as a angler, but it never happened.
I admit, I may have been more dismayed by this then he seemed to be, as I assume he did not put any emphasis on how he fished compared to others or how rare an angler he was. The point is, even advanced anglers can struggle depending on the day, most of the time they will find a way to improvise and overcome but there are those days when the water will simply not give up, and as my fellow guide Duane Redford is fond of saying “mother nature gets the last word”.
I believe it is these days of difficulty on the water that help make an average angler into a expert. It’s a depressing realization, but advanced anglers have plenty of days that most of us would simply chalked up to “the fish weren’t biting” and this is undoubtedly accurate, however, it is not how it is perceived by those who seek to refine there technique, there is always something more to learn, new angles to master, old tricks to re-apply, and more questions to be asked. I contend that a bad day of fishing does more for a individuals fishing process than most good days on the water as it tempers the desire for improvement.