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Ronan's report

Wednesday 17th October, 2007

Back from a long week of steelheading. The freedom of a fishing roadtrip is hard to beat. It's tough to switch from the fishing life back to the 8-5 "real world" routine, but I'm coming along. It was a good trip. Variable weather had the fish acting strangely, toying with the fly rather than attacking it aggressively. I hooked at least one steelhead every day, including my first (and second, and third) on a Washington river that has skunked me several times before. On that same river, we had a less than civil encounter with one redneck who felt that the combination of our Oregon license plates and fly rods was reason enough to shout threats of violence, profanities, and a suggestion that we go home. We saw the same guy then next day, working as a contractor, you guessed it, in Oregon. We hooked no huge native steelhead, like we'd hoped, but several spirited wild fish under 10 pounds took our flies. The most amazing fish of the trip was a native Chinook Salmon that my buddy Niall landed after a 35 minute battle. That brute (close to 40 inches and 30 pounds) took us over 250 yards downriver before finally coming close enough for me to wrap a hand around its massive tail.

Besides all that, I spotted this intriguing quote in an article I was reading on the bus ride in to work today.

"The Internet has now entirely inverted the criteria by which we assign value to information. In the old world, the knowledge most highly prized was the knowledge that was hardest to get. The truly powerful and transformative ideas were assumed to be the ones you learned only from a six-year stint at an Ivy League medical school, or after climbing a Himalaya to consult some sort of nude, cross-legged yogi. These days it is the reverse. The ideas we prize the highest are the ones that are easiest to access. If an idea or a tip or a secret of life hasn't yet found its way to the Internet, we now assume there must be something wrong with it, and most of the time we're right." -Bruno Maddox in Discover Magazine, September 2007

I don't necessarily agree with that. In flyfishing at least, the knowledge and skills that I value most are those which ARE hardest to obtain. Sure you can get a lot from the Internet, especially on sites like this where there are so many skilled anglers and instructors willing to share their experience. But some knowledge can only come in time, after paying your dues on the river for years. Sometimes it's a simple thing, like confidence in your fly selection, that takes years to develop. Short circuit the process by paying $395 for a guide, and you might buy yourself confidence for a day, but that's it. What about seeing fish? All you camo wearing Kiwis, crawling around in the bushes for years on end, you know how long it takes to develop "The Vision". Again, this is a valued skill, that many pay top dollar for because the ability to understand how and where to see fish is not something that is easy to come by. You might be able to understand how to cast 120 feet with a 5wt by reading Sexyloops, but you sure as hell won't be able to actually do it without years of practice and understand that come from repeated failures and occasional discoveries. And you know what, you can't buy hard work, dedication, blood, sweat, practice, or any of the intangible things that make great anglers that way from a guide, or find it for free on the Internet. As my buddy Rak says, "The more I practice, the Luckier I get!" I guess that is the difference between knowing something, and truly understanding it. I'm glad it's that way. I'm glad that being a great angler is hard. It means more that way.

Until next time,


PS - Feeling left out of the madness, so tonight the internet is down and the FP is brought to you courtesy of free WIFI at a coffee shop. I'm in my truck right now, parked inconspicuously out front.

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