Friday, February 19, 2021

The Power of Encounters

It was 2016 and my fly fishing for musky journey was only a few years in existence. At that point, I'd caught a few muskies while helping Austin Greene film "Pursuing Esox," and I found myself only tying flies that were more like pets than lures. I'd made my way to the Somerset Fly Fishing Show to pick up some feathers and promptly leave. At the show I caught a glimpse of the man, the myth, the legend, Blane Chocklett. I mustered up the courage to go talk to him about a large female musky that was haunting my dreams. As a quiet guy by nature, who hardly ever talks to anyone, I walked right up to Blane and asked him a few questions. After some brief answers, he curtly stated that at a certain point it would be best to simply put in my time. Slightly miffed, it took me a little to realize that he was right. 

I've been a DIY angler since I started fly fishing 22 years ago. In the realm of fly fishing, casting, and tying, I've never had a mentor or a lesson. I've never even paid for a guide. Ever. Putting in my time is all I've ever done. Over the past few years, I haven't exactly been doing that. I'm simply a weekend warrior that goes musky fishing a few times a year on a river that has a 0% catch rate by the Fish and Boat Commission. That isn't exactly a recipe for success or improvement. Outside of that river, I have a batting average better than Ted Williams. A big part of the musky on fly equation is fishing in areas with legitimate musky populations and learning from every positive, or negative, encounter. Putting in time is definitely important. However, your progression, and understanding, of how to feed, fight, and land a ski, requires interactions. 

As an angler, you need to learn from every single encounter you have from a musky. This involves keeping a spreadsheet of each session on the water. Include everything from flows, barometric pressure, and moon phase, to moon rises, sets, majors, and minors. Be sure to keep track of every encounter and cross reference it with those conditions. Learning involves having the ability to replay every sighting, follow, refusal, and thrown hook in your mind to analyze what went right and what went wrong. Remembering every experience enables one to learn the triggering mechanisms that send a shiver down a musky's lateral line and elicits that chase response. Presentation angles, fly speed, fly movement, and approaching the figure 8 are all incredibly important. All of the aforementioned information is a giant puzzle piece. Of course, there is no silver bullet but there are a lot of silver linings to every situation and how to approach it. One can solve the puzzle in many ways. You will fail a lot, especially if you're fly fishing off a stand up paddleboard like an idiot. Every now and then, you'll find success and revel in those moments. Regardless of where you're at, find some muskies, play the game, learn, and constantly apply. 

Or, simply hire a guide...

A weight lifting type of day...

Channeling one Joe Godspeed

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