So much angling fodder is spent discussing the nuances of gear, tackle and tactical approaches. There’s really very little left to the imagination. Many folks will be more than happy to offer up a treatise on the latest flyline or fly and why their flavor of the week is something to behold. The Ferrari drivers in our lot will go to great lengths to justify their existence, and even greater lengths to explain the advantages of a $1,200 rod. The script for high enders reads like an ubiquitous Powerpoint presentation. If you want to be the best, you have to drive the best. In a former lifetime I was stricken by such ailments, but have toned down the rhetoric in recent years. As someone who is in the business of building facades around products and services of varying quality. I’ve paid my dues and seen behind the puppeteers curtain. I am not guiltless in this pursuit, but I’m also not driven by the next big thing.
I like to keep things simple. Fishing is 90% being at the right place at the right time, 9% tactics and execution and 1% other. It’s really that simple. So why do we spend so much energy on the 9%? You can probably answer that better than I, but scrutiny comes with the turf. There’s an argument to be made that I’m demonstrating some “funny math” here, but I’m confident with my scientific method. Why do you think the guy with the 6″ Rapala or the 8 year-old with the bobber rig just landed “your” fish?
The vast majority of my days are spent in the wrong place at the wrong time or even the wrong place at the right time, and occasionally at the right place at the wrong time, but rarely at the right place at the right time. There have been few fleeting exceptions to this narrative. But by and large this is how my angling has unfolded in recent memory. From time to time a particularly damming truth will smack you in the face. You’ve bucked the odds and actually found yourself in the right place at the right time, but fell victim to the 9% tactics and execution portion of the equation. Sometimes this unfolds in dramatic fashion. My epic failure to properly seal the deal on a true giant after a crusade to the depths of the Black Canyon last year comes to mind. Those of us that are shallow enough to be driven by big fish can appreciate the feeling. Some beasts will never fully be eradicated from our memory, we just learn to cope (and nurture the myth). I succombed this cruel blow a few days ago and the heartache is still lingering in the air like a stale fart.
The easiest way to find yourself in the right place at the right time is to hire a guide, or alternatively befriend someone in the know (or just cherry pick someone else’s spots). This may be standard operating procedure for most, but for me it tarnishes the experience. Win, lose or draw I usually want to do it of my own accord. Sharing information is good, being told exactly where to cast is another thing altogether. The moment of discovery is one of my favorite facets of this pursuit. If I wanted it easy I’d play shuffleboard in my free time. Antisocial angling tendencies is just another one on my burgeoning list of idiosyncrasies.
As I glean all that I can from this waning season, I’ve accepted my place, wading in the margins of proper angling society while others bask in the spoils. The truth of the matter is that I’m being somewhat dramatic. I have a few gems in my back pocket to keep me warm this winter. When it comes down to it, finding yourself in the right place at the right time isn’t just a happy accident, it’s a compulsive pursuit.