Column: Time outside worth the effort

If it were possible to somehow turn back the hands of time to the moment when I hooked my very first fish, it would most likely be somewhere along the banks of Chase Creek.

I would have been all of five or six years of age. But alas, the memory of that moment is lost in the foggy annals of time. I do know there was a photo of me taken on my ninth birthday, proudly holding a new rod and reel. I also know that, as a young boy, I spent many an hour casting to fish within holding pools or beneath the shadow of an overhanging branch in many a creek or stream.

It wasn’t until I was a bit older that I had the opportunity to fish from a boat. Either way I was in my glory.

Stream fishing, like stillwater angling, has its own appeal – if not advantages.

Fishing from the banks of a stream allows one to more easily recognize potential holding spots such as runs, riffles and seems, and then, simply make a cast upstream, thus allowing the current to carry their line into the the feeding zone. An angler need only walk along, making their way from holding pool to holding pool, in search of feeding fish. Now having said that, one must also be able to cast their line, especially a fly line, without snagging it on any nearby branches. I have managed to make such blunders into an art form.

In a boat, one might be able to cover a greater amount of castable water from one spot, as well as perhaps enjoy the luxury of having one’s gear sitting at their side at all times without having to carry it from one spot to the next all day long. But like I said, each has its own advantages and appeal.

I should also point out that when I have spent the day fishing from the banks of a river or stream with little to show for my efforts, I am quick to point out that I am mostly a stillwater fisherman. On those occasions when I have had little or no luck casting to fish from a boat, I am equally willing to plead that I am at heart a stream fisherman, and that is where my true skills lie – “lie” perhaps being the key word here. Be that as it may, I am not above using whatever excuse presents itself to cover my ineptness.

In some ways I have made the use of excuses into an art form.

Fishing to me has always been a form of relaxation. However, sometimes it seems like just too much of an effort to hook up the boat, load all the fishing gear into the Jeep, make sure the batteries for the electric trilling motor are charged – never mind lifting them into the boat.

Then there’s all the other stuff, like making sure everything is tied down and secured, checking the tires on the trailer and, of course, not forgetting the tackle box or cooler. When I was a kid, I just grabbed my rod and headed down to the creek. Fishing was far less complicated.

Perhaps that is why I like stream fishing so much. It is a much more unencumbered process to say the least. What I need to bring along I can usually carry in the pockets of my fishing vest. My point being that when I fish along the banks of a river or stream, I feel unencumbered. I feel free to concentrate on my cast and breath in all the sights and sounds and smells around me. I am comfortable standing knee deep in fast flowing waters, and feel a certain satisfaction knowing that with each cast I am sharing the banks with all the anglers who have stood there before me.

I have caught trout in small streams as well as giant sturgeon in the Fraser River. I have fought wild steelhead and salmon in rivers that are a part of sport fishing history. I have eaten my catch as a shore lunch and returned many a fish to the waters from where it came. I have enjoyed countless hours casting to the hopes of a fish and returned home many an evening with little to show for my effort, other than the satisfaction of having spent time on the water.

That, in itself, is and has always been well worth the effort.