Saturday, August 20, 2011

In Praise of Lost Fish

Why would I be praising lost fish? Think about it for a minute. If it were not for those legendary and mythical "Ones that got away" where would our sport be? We can take an obscure lost trout of undetermined size (most likely pretty small) and that trout, through the years of retelling the story, can grow to trophy proportion.
Now of course I would never stoop to such fibbing about my fly fishing conquests but I know a few people who would.
Whenever an angler starts a fish story with "This is no shit!" You know you are in store for a a tapestry of lies.

We have to have these lost fish as a way to BS around the fly tying table or fill in the times when the river are our of shape or we are enjoying a cold adult beverage with a few "truth challenged" buddies. I think that over the years these angling tall tales become fact in our own minds and we end up not really knowing if we, ourselves , are telling the truth. There was never anyone to call us on our tales and until that advent of the digital camera there was never photographic proof.
Again you must understand that I would never do that.
It's a pretty harmless vice actually and in truth can turn a thorough skunking into a semi-successful day of fishing with a few well placed exaggerations.
When my wife asks me how my fishing trip had gone I usually reply "hooked a few". Those few may have been smolt or rocks or quite possibly an over hanging branch but she never queries beyond that so I do not have to explain just what it was the  I hooked.
We all have had fish that were hooked and lost that stay with us forever. It might have been that trout that spooled me or a hard fighting steelhead but our fleeting and dramatic encounters with these memorable fish just makes all future embellishments more special and it keeps us coming back.
How many of you think about those lost fish? How much larger has that fish grown over the years?
Stretching the truth is part and parcel with angling and maybe that is just another part of what makes fly fishing so charming.