Aug 2, 2011

fly fishing

I haven't fished, any kind of fishing, in over 30 years. Even though I'm from probably one of the fishing capitals of the world, Minnesota, I fished once there. My dad, whose patriarchal duty it was to take me out fishing, hated fishing. He was so poor when he was young that fishing wasn't recreation; it was a way to get food. He didn't even have the money for a rod.  He used to stand in the river, wait for fish to swim by, and throw them onto shore.  I think fishing reminded him of work and the fact that he was once so poor.

During my visit to Seattle recently however, my friend Ty suggested we and our other friend Robert head out to Yakima and go fly fishing.


As an aside Ty and Robert are both Norwegian. Their last names are Jungerhans and Ueland. They are pretty much what you'd expect from Norwegians. Strapping is the adjective that comes to mind when you see them. They are both ex-football players and annually, without any kind of training, climb Mount Rainer and ski down. They are manly men. The kind of guys you want around outdoors and when you're learning to fly fish.

There were a couple of interesting things I learned on the trip.

First, fly fishing is fundamentally different from traditional fishing due to the fact that the fly or lure is a completely different weight. In traditional fishing the lure is heavy and when you cast you are casting the lure; flinging this heavy object out to where you think the fish are. And thus a bob is needed to keep it from sinking.

Fly fishing lures are as light as a feather. They float on the water until they get waterlogged. And so casting something as light as a feather will not work. To compensate the line is what is heavy. Therefore you are really casting the line in fly fishing. It's thick, colored, and not prone to breaking. So the flicking motion to get the lure where you want it to go is designed around whipping the line back and forth. It's actually quite easy to learn but difficult to master. There is also clearly no bob necessary as well.

The second thing I learned was that where we were fishing (we stayed at the Canyon River Lodge), the Yakima River, is Washington's only Blue Ribbon fishery. Blue Ribbon is sort of a loose designation for one of the top fishing locations based on how many fish are in the river among other things. This is also a slightly embarrassing designation because we hooked absolutely nothing. A few nibbles but no catches. What you are supposed to hook is trout and maybe salmon if you're there at the right time.  But then I learned that catching fish is largely secondary to being on a river, outdoors, drinking beer, hanging with your buddies.  It was a great time.

And around the area can be found interesting wild animals - Bighorn sheep, mule deer, herons, hawks, which we saw. And also bobcats, cougars (downtown Seattle has those too), bears, elk. It's a beautiful area and hopefully I can get a second try at catching a fish next time I'm in town.

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