I don't care how long you have been fishing, how many fish you have landed in your lifetime...or how many memorable days you have nailed to the den wall. Bad days still hurt. A skunking can make you feel pathetic and depressed. Maybe these days hurt me more because I make my living teaching others how to catch fish. After a horrible day on the water I must march right back into the fly shop and do my best not to miss a beat. I will be asked technical fly fishing questions by hundreds of other fishermen, some who are undoubtedly better anglers than I am. But, it is my job to help and I do it as well as I can. On these days following a solid nut punch, however...I feel more like saying, "Hell, I don't know what fly you should have been using! I didn't catch shit either!"
Sometimes we are spared some of your embarrassments and allowed a shot at redemption. Sometimes we have another full day to fish following one of these bad days. A day to brush off the dust, tighten up the saddle and fling our leg back over the horses back. Now, I don't recommend gearing up and trekking back to that same high-elevation lake that beat you down the day before (as was my case) or into the same river that showed you no color...or the same mud flat that shut you down. Because it most likely wasn't you who caused your bad day. It sounds like a carpenter blaming the hammer for not driving a nail straight, but more often than not it was the weather, the water temperature, the bugs or some other fisherman pounding the water a day or an hour before you arrived. Some of these factors that cause bad days are totally unforeseen and can, at best, only be speculated about. So, choose a fresh pony. One that has yet to be beaten raw by your own riding crop.
Today I needed a feel-good day after suffering absolute humiliation yesterday. I could not take any chances, though...so, I decided to go back to the wheelhouse. The sweet spot in my strike zone where I know I can ding one into the seats almost at will. Callin' my shots like The Babe. A high pocket water trout stream. It is not one particular creek I like going back to when times are tough and moral is low, it is just how I feel about these types of waters. I absolutely love them. There is a certain treacherous and physically demanding aspect to this type of fly fishing. It caters to the fish obsessed or the overly hungry angler...one that, for whatever reason, feels like they have something to prove and the only thing to quell the burn is to hook as many trout as possible. Picking these high mountain pockets is like stealing wallets on the subway when the lights go out...it ain't a matter of how good you are, just how damn fast and nimble. And the rewards are countless and beautiful. And you can't help but feel good about yourself again at the end of the day...and toasts will be raised at the dinner table. Good fish. Good day. Good times!