A bunch of us were sitting around changing out rusted trebles, tying flies, and other stuff that usually accompanies those activities. A conversation started out with an odd question: if you could only catch one fish for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Personally, that was about as depressing a thought as it gets. Still, I found myself answering “a 70-90 pound tarpon.” I picked that size of fish because it was big enough to put a good bend in the rod, had enough spunk to jump a mess of times, and would give up a fight long enough that I wouldn’t feel like I was working out in the gym. My pals all nodded in agreement.
A few minutes later one buddy said “bass, largemouth.” He went on to describe that he loves the way bass take the bait/the lure, the way they jump, and the way they thrash around on the surface. He also likes that the fish try to break him off on deadfall or wrap him up in the lily pads. It takes skill to hook ‘em and skill to land ‘em. We all nodded in agreement.
Another one said winter steelhead. He likes fishing for them when it’s cold and raw outside. He likes the heavy water that is dark and gray. When a fish erupts it wakes him up from the trance that comes with river fishing in the winter. Again, we all agreed.
We went on and on for a few hours. We talked about bobbers getting tugged under water by bluegills, river smallmouth bass peeling off line, bluefish blitzes chopping up baitfish, and hand-lining a perch through the ice. When it was all said and done we had covered fish from channel cats to Atlantic salmon and all points in between. We had convinced each other that we were all wrong, and all right at the same time. In the end there wasn’t a right answer. There were just a tremendous amount of different experiences.
We were ready to call it a night when Ken asked “what’s your favorite way to catch fish?” The night was young but we were not. But when you’re asked a good question like that you give it all that you’ve got. And so we did.
Tom Keer is a freelance writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He regularly writes for over a dozen magazines, and is the contributing editor of Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America and a columnist for The Upland Almanac. His book a “Flyfisher’s Guide to the New England Coast” was published by Wilderness Adventures Press in 2010. Visit him at www.tomkeer.com or at www.thekeergroup.com