Trying to balance life is a funny thing. Just when I think I’ve got it figured out, something unexpected gets thrown in the mix and that delicate balance quickly become chaos. Spending a meaningful amount of time focusing on my faith in God, my family, my friends, and my schooling are all part of the balance. Throw in my love for fly fishing and rock climbing, and things can quickly become overwhelming. Three or so months ago I came to the realization that my life was anything but in balance. I was out of school and fishing WAY too much. I know, fishing too much? How could such a thing ever be possible! When it gets to the point that you are breaking other important commitments to spend every extra moment of time on the water, you are definitely out of balance, and this is exactly how I was living my life. I would make plans with friends or family, only to later send out a text informing them I was going fishing instead. Upon realizing I had been living my life rather selfishly, I began working towards fixing things. I did what I could to make things right with those who I had hurt.
“A life that gets out ofbalance is much like a car tire that is out of balance. It will make the operation of the car rough and unsafe. Tires in perfect balance can give a smooth and comfortable ride. So it is with life.” – M. Russell Ballard
I started by taking some time off from fishing and instead focused on the aforementioned things that matter most to me. I spent more time doing meaningful things with my friends and family. I worked on strengthening my faith and relationship with God. I made my blog private, along with my Instagram account. I also took down my blog’s FB page and spent significantly less time viewing social media. I felt by eliminating these distractions from my life I would more easily be able to focus on getting things back in balance.
Dry Dropper For the Win
After a month had passed and I felt that things were finally balanced in a way acceptable to me, I decided it was time to hit the river again. I knew that salmon flies would be hatching on one of our local rivers and made the short drive. Upon arriving, I immediately went down and inspected the grassy banks. To my surprise there wasn’t a single big bug in the grass. Undeterred, I tied on a salmon fly and dropped a rubber leg a foot below it, just in case they didn’t feel like eating on top. I threw a cast to a promising run and on my second cast watched as a big head broke the surface and inhaled my fly. Shortly after I set the hook, the fish shot down river and began using the current to its advantage. Eventually, as all trout do, he tired out and was brought to hand. Few catches in my life have brought me such happiness. It wasn’t the size of the fish, or the fact that I caught it on a dry, or even that it was a nice fish for the river it came from. It was the realization that I finally had my life back in balance and that I was no longer putting fishing before the needs of others. I didn’t have anywhere else I was supposed to be. I hadn’t promised anyone I would help them with something or hang out with them. I wasn’t skipping out on homework or other responsibilities. I was exactly where I wanted to be and knew that there was nothing wrong with that.
I continued fishing a couple more hours, covering just under a mile of water. I picked up a fish or two every few minutes, including a couple more decent browns. Although I enjoy throwing dries, it isn’t my “go to” method, so it was a nice change of pace. Even tiny bows get your blood pumping when they strike explosively on a fly that they might be two or three inches bigger than. Eventually evening set in and I decided to call it a day. I had homework I needed to finish and other responsibilities to get back to. A month free of fishing might not seem like very long to most people, but when you are used to fishing at least three or four days a week, it feels like a very long time. With that said, I could not have asked for a better first day back on the water.
Little Brown, Big Black Spots
As of late, most of my time on the water has been spent fueling my addiction for carp on the fly. There are so many things that I love about fly fishing for carp, many of which I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts. It’s hard not to respect a fish that offers such a great challenge. I discovered an area last, September that is home to a healthy population of carp, but unfortunately I only had a small window of time to fish it. All winter I looked forward to going back. This area does not have any springs, so the level of activity the fish are at really depends on air and water temperatures.
One of my favorite things about the area is the unique array of challenges it has to offer. There are some places in Idaho that I’ll admit the carp are not all that challenging to catch, so long as your presentation is decent, but this is not one of them. Snake River carp always seem to know you’re up to something. If you step on the bank too loudly, they spook off and quit feeding. If you cast a shadow in the wrong spot, it’s game over. There are only two occasions that I have found tailing fish here. Most of the time there are a handful of cruisers and a bunch of sunners. Deep pools, with some over 30 feet deep, are where the fish hold most often. I also believe the area is frequented by bow fisherman. All that aside, it is one of my favorite places to chase carp because I enjoy a challenge and I’m a sucker for big fish (Pun intended).
This semester has been busier than usual, but I have tried my best to make time for fishing at least once or twice every couple weeks. Sometime during the last week of May I had an open afternoon and took advantage of it. I arrived at the river to stormy skies and temps in the mid to upper 70’s. The wind blew and and thunder rumbled every once in a while in the distance, but I didn’t think much of it. I’ve caught carp in worse conditions, so at least the temperature was on my side. I headed over to my usual spot, scanning the water for any signs of life along the way. After the brief 10-minute walk I arrived at the flat and noticed a few carp slowly cruising the banks. I did my best to put the sneak on them but ended up scaring every last one of them away. I made my way over to one of the pools and found a pod of carp feeding a few feet off the bank. They were feeding deep, so I would only catch a glimpse of a tail or fin every once in a while, but never saw where there heads were. I decided to risk spooking the pod and threw a cast into the middle of the cloud of dust. I waited until I knew my fly was in the zone and slowly began my retrieve. The line became taught and I set the hook. Line ripped from my reel as the fish darted into deeper water. Eventually showing itself, I discovered it was a fat little mirror, somewhere in the 10 lb. range. I landed the fish, snapped a couple pics, and sent her on her way.
The once distant storm slowly worked it’s way towards me and the lightning strikes and thunder were no longer that far off. I decided it’d be best to head back to the truck and call it a day. On my way back, I noticed a pod of carp actively feeding and couldn’t pass up the opportunity. I picked out the most active of the fish and made my cast. She slowly worked her way over to my leech and inhaled it. I set the hook and in typical carp fashion she took off to the deep. I fought the fish for several minutes, the storm continuing to work its way closer with each passing minute. After a few more minutes I landed the big gal and snapped a few pics. I don’t carry a scale on me, so it’s hard to say how much she weighed, but it was by far my biggest fish from this section of river. After releasing her, I realized the storm was right on top of me and I hustled back to my truck, avoiding anymore distractions. Even in fishing there are things that must be balance, such as risk and safety. When lightning is directly overhead, it is usually best to call it quits, no matter how good the fishing might be.
Sunshine, Carp, and Jurassic Park
Since I’ve started fishing again, I have been able to keep things in balance, the way it should be. Fly fishing is good for the soul. It allows time to think and reflect on the things that weigh upon my mind from time to time. True happiness can only be found by living a balanced life, and this truth has recently become more apparent to me than ever before. The Fish Hunter Chronicles blog is back up and running and I will once again continue posting on a regular basis. Many thanks to all those who support and follow the blog. When I began writing on this blog, I only intended it to be a journal for my own personal use. I had no idea about the people it would allow me to meet and the impact some of my writings would have on people. I have also added two new tabs, “Carp on the Fly” and “Night Fishing”, so be sure to check them out.