Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Trout Bum

I recently attended a fly fishing film festival at movie theatre/beer hall in Portland. The festival featured short clips of various fly fishing destinations like Belize, British Columbia,Mongolia and Kamchatka and all in all it was enjoyable to watch.
While it was fun to see these fantastic locations and dreamed about places I have to wonder if this trout bum phenomena is a good thing for our sport and for wild fish in general.
There was one clip where the anglers had to be helicoptered into a remote river in order to fish for huge rainbows and I wondered if there any place in the world where wild fish are left alone anymore? Is there any place where man cannot reach them?
I also wonder if the anglers in these films who travel to these exotic locales reflect what is best about fly fishing? The image of these guys holding a trophy trout out of the water with their rod firmly gripped in their teeth is kind of repulsive to me.
Some of you might think I am just envious of these anglers and them getting a chance to fish where most other guys only dream of but I'm really not.
I love my fly fishing world and am satisfied to fish where I am. The pursuit of steelhead and trout here in the Pacific Northwest is a very satisfying experience for me. Trying to preserve the wild salmonids of this region provides enough of a challenge and chance at gratification as I want.
When I abandoned my bait and gear angling life in favor of fly fishing only, it was for a reason. That reason is a lot more than having my grinning face plastered all over the internet with my latest conquests. I got into fly fishing for the sheer joy of it and I dearly love every tradition from the past that goes along with it.
No doubt there are millions of fly fishermen out there that feel the same way.
Sorry but the whirlwind "Endless Summer" fly fishing movies are nothing more than eye candy and something I would not pursue. The young guys in these films are not someone I envy as they place their indicators on their line and have at it.
Call me cynical if you want but to my way of thing this type of fishing over kill flies in the face of tradition and the meaning of why I travel this road.
If someone offered to pay my way to New Zealand to fish for those big browns and rainbows I would go...who wouldn't? The point I am trying to make is I think this type of search and destroy barn storming throughout the world is, in some cases, obscene and over indulgent.
The Deschutes or the Metolius rivers are about as exotic as I care to get at this stage of my life and the joy of a nicely cast dry fly is reward enough. Big numbers and lots of ego photos are fine for some but not for this old gent.


  1. Amen my friend. You are the real trout bum. Takes years of experience, appreciation and a certain restraint. The kids in the snowboard/fly fishing films are just thrill-bums.

  2. Thanks Erik! I give you credit for making me even more aware of the degradation of our sport.
    Keep up the good work my friend.

  3. Shane:

    I'm generally with you on this one though I can't care less about the trout of South America or New Zealand. They after all are an invasive and/or introduced species that undoubtedly wreak havoc on the actual native and wild species and ecosystems in those regions.

    I don't see trout as superior to the native species in those areas ... so whack em and stack em as far as I am concerned.

    Now, as for the rest, I was ruminating on a similar topic the other day. Technology and the spread of information on fisheries (of which I am a part) often seem to leave no fish safe from harassment and seem to take some of the mystery out of our sport. At the same time, modern mapping techniques have led to increased knowledge of areas that contribute to high fish productivity and why. The lack of mystery may be a good thing ultimately for fish restoration. I guess we'll see.

  4. i think these films are great, and a wonderful breath of fresh air. the rivers are out there and they will be fished, and in these movies they appeared to be fished by people who truly care about the sport and the creatures they pursue. i have yet to see one of the films listed in the award show called bloody deck diaries by the snag masters. what is wrong with showing non anglers how much we care for the sport and showing average working stiffs what its like to go to places they most likely will never be able to afford to travel? it brings more people to the sport who might have never given fishing a second thought. it brings young people to the sport and they are the future. with all these people coming in and ruining YOUR favorite spots please remember they are bringing money into it as well and money and LOTS of people who love flyfishing and fish are the only thing that will save our fisheries. dam builders snow boarders, football fans, and so on and so on usually COULDNT CARE LESS ABOUT THE STATE OF THE FISHERIES!!! some times all the bleeding hearts out there have a hard time looking at the big picture, luckily there are orgs like PETA with similarly loose grips on reality who will welcome these types with open arms.

  5. Blake Robinson6:59 AM

    Hypocrisy does not become you, my friend.
    If someone would buy you a ticket, you would go. And yet you heap scorn on your fellow anglers who are passionate about travel.

    You may want to edit that post or your own inclinations.

  6. Sorry Blake but no edits. If one has a chance to see a part of the world he has never seen before then why wouldn't he take it if offered for free?
    The thing is Blake, these "Trout Bums" are examples of unreal expectations and I feel they fly in the face of the traditions of our sport.