|I Love Red Breasts...sunfish that is!|
Looking back on the last 12 months, it turns out that I have spent more time fly fishing and mountain biking by myself than with my buds. I wondered why no one wants to go with me. True…I am picky about who I spend time with in the woods. If we hike five miles into a mountain stream, I want to know you can carry my sorry ass out to the car should I turn my ankle. I want to know that you’ll fish as long as I do. I want to know that you can change your own flat tire. I want to know that you prefer Fat Tire over Bud Light. So if I’m picky and spending most of my fishing and biking alone, that begs the question,
“Is it me?”
I recently pondered that very question as I strung up my five weight and headed to the Eno River…by myself. I don’t have many free Saturday’s due to my scouting stuff so I relish days I can fish. I emailed a good fishing buddy and he called me…said he was headed to one of our favorite trout streams in the mountains but didn’t think I could go due to family obligations. I said, “hell yes I can go…just let me clear it with my better half.” When I called him back to let him know I was good to go, he told me that another person that previously couldn’t go, now wanted to and this stream just doesn’t handle three anglers. I knew that and backed out quickly so that my buddy wouldn’t be caught between a rock and a tough drift. He was appreciative. So as I hiked alone to the Eno that morning, I thought, “dang, that was a nice thing I did.”
And it was.
I do a lot of unselfishing things but yet…especially within my fly fishing circles…I have a reputation of being, I don’t know…an asshole?!
|A Monster Shell Cracker|
By now I reached the river, and spent the next six hours fishing waters I love. I had a good day piscatorially speaking. I managed to complete the Eno grand slam which includes a coveted Roanoke bass, gorgeous red breasted sunfish, a lean and mean river largemouth, and of course a big ‘ole horny head…a fine river chub that exceeded 14 inches! Certainly my mojo and karma didn’t mind fishing with me. I even managed a whopper of a shell cracker sunfish.
Yet fly fishing was second string on this day…trying to figure out why I was fly fishing alone yet again was foremost on my mind. I couldn’t shake the question,
“Is it me?”
I sat down on a rock near a really neat shoal on the river. It’s an old mill site. The Eno is littered with old mill sites…truly the community’s life blood of that time…now the life blood that keeps me goin’. The Eno is an intimate river and some of its sections I know better than anyone, yet I could spend the rest of my life exploring them. Fortunately, nature changes her…like many rivers it is a dynamic living thing, as fickle as any woman and just as sexy.
|A Favorite Spot on the Eno River|
I spend a lot of time fly fishing her…maybe that’s why I fish alone. No one likes a fly fishing “orgy” unless you are fishing the Roanoke River spring shad and/or striped bass fishing run or our famed fall false albacore blitz on the North Carolina Crystal Coast. Hell, I could fish those fisheries by myself and never be alone!
Interestingly, in my scouting circles I am almost revered, but I am no different at scout events than I am fly fishing or mountain biking (ok…except for the four letter words and beer drinking which are both frowned upon at scouts of course). My point being, I am the same person no matter what hobby or interest I pursue, yet when it comes to fly fishing especially, I fish alone.
Maybe it’s my choice…or maybe it’s me. After spending that fine spring Saturday on the Eno all by myself I have to admit…I am a damn good fly caster and not shy about showing my skills…I can talk a lot (although no more than my accusers)…and I did hog all the best spots on the river that day just for myself.
|This Bass Took Me Under a Log|
But I won’t mention the trash I picked up, or how I assisted a river land owner make sure the stream buffer was protected the week before, or the Saturday I spent at a recent earth fair promoting protection of the river, or the injured mountain biker I recently helped on the trail, or the scouting family I helped during a time of need, or the countless hours I’ve spent trying to instill a conservation ethic in the scouting youth of our area. Nope…those don’t convince anyone to go fishing with me.
Even I’m not convinced…after spending that six hours on the Eno, listening to me talk non-stop, having to laugh at my dumb jokes, watching me make better casts…casts that resulted in more caught fish, listening to me gloat all the way back to my truck, getting a lecture about my strong conservation ethic, and being forced to drink a really good micro-brew when I got home, I realized something…
Damn, “I guess it is me!”