Trout are the keystone species in the sport of fly fishing. The overwhelmingly majority of fly fishermen begin their hobbies/careers targeting wild or stocked trout on their local waters. The experience molds us into the fishermen we become and sows the seeds of future success in the sport. Some fishermen begin with trout and rarely branch out to target other species in fresh or saltwater. Others start out trout fishing and pull away in separate directions. These fishermen usually end up focusing on a specific niche in fly fishing. This seems to be fairly common today, and the hot sub-groups in freshwater are carp and musky. Personally, I have been specializing in fly fishing for carp, and over the last few years, trout have taken the backseat. My argument lies in the fact that a lot of these "specialist" anglers forget about the trout. A small number actually grow, or pretend, to disdain them. This "too good for trout" attitude is gaining momentum and is a little hard to comprehend.
Over a weekend in the early spring, I ventured out to a small wild trout stream. I asked a few friends if they'd like to come along, but I got laughs and jeers in return. Really? As I began fishing, I couldn't help but think about their general disposition towards trout and how they got that way. A lot of people say that trout fishing is easy, but I can think of numerous places and times where I was left feeling pretty inadequate at the intelligence, wariness, and selective nature of trout. Places like the Upper Delaware will stump even the most seasoned anglers. A more common argument is the statement that, "I'd rather catch a 10 lb. (insert fish here) than a 10 inch trout". I think we all would, but the charm of trout fishing is much greater than that. It's about fishing in remote places, targeting wild beautiful fish, and matching the hatch. Its about small flies, small rods, and light tippet. Its the feeling that at any moment you might stumble upon a 10lb. trout and catch a fish of a lifetime.
I am not saying that trout are the best species to catch on a fly rod. I'll also be the first to admit that when faced with a choice between trout and a host of other species, I'd probably choose the more exotic fish every time. However, that does not give me reason to have a pretentious view of myself or the species I am targeting. The sport is filled with enough narcissism as is and just because someone is extremely good at something, it doesn't give them the option to look or talk down on trout. After all, it is fishing, whether your catching sunfish or tarpon. As I continue to become increasingly diverse in my fly fishing ventures, I will always have a soft spot for trout. I think deep down inside, a lot of the aforementioned people do too, whether they like to admit it, or not.