It’s been a great few weeks of fly fishing. It has also been a period of planning, as 2016 is right around the corner, and I am planning my fly fishing resolutions.
The hip replacement was a setback. There’s nothing like canceling a trip to Ascension Bay and instead committing to weeks in bed then the long process of rehab and physical therapy. What is there to do during that time other than indulge in fly fishing videos, magazines, and other media that only fueled my desire to get on the water. What this amounted to was a list of ambitious plans for 2016, including fly fishing in California but also perhaps Argentina, Florida, Mexico, the Bahamas, Alaska, and more. While the desire remains, recent angling ventures may have altered my perspective, and I now feel moved to keep it local … sort of.
Over the last few months, I have fished the California surf for stripers, the Trinity River for steelhead, and Pyramid Lake for Lahontan cutthroat trout. All within five hours, these are all (sort of) local and provide exceptional opportunities for world-class fly fishing. For many anglers, the California surf and Northern California steelhead aren’t worth the effort. I can understand this. Especially with the surf, a great deal of effort goes into each fish. It actually took years for me to figure out the scene, and I still don’t catch fish often. Regardless, I’ve reached a point where the challenge (and many fish-less days) are all I need to get stoked.
While people travel from all over the world to visit California’s beaches or chase West Coast chrome, I’ve been jet-setting from here to other destinations. I have no regrets, and I also have a long list of places to go and species to target, but I’ve concluded that keeping it “local” might be the best thing for me for a while. A local shop owner recently told me that the San Francisco Bay area has “lots of fish, but no fishermen.” There is some truth in this. The fish are here, but because it might be harder and there aren’t blueprints for success, few anglers take on area angling pursuits.
With that, 2016 might be the year of focusing more on the challenges nearby. If you’ve ever checked out Mikey Wier’s Instagram (@mikowier), the dude frequently posts photos of great fish caught in Northern California. I’ve often been both surprised and impressed while wondering why I am not paying my dues to find such gold in the hills. At the same time, I can’t imagine how rewarding it would be to research, scout, plan, and get into such harder-to-catch Cali critters and what an extraordinary impact it would have with improving my skills as an angler. Endless hours in the surf or a steelhead river would only make each fish more exciting and could lead to more mastery of certain skills.
For now, I am resolving to fish local in 2016. This is not to say that I won’t hop on a plane, but for the first time in a long time, I am going to work on refining my skills and embracing what I have easily accessible. There is in fact gold in these hills and too much natural beauty not to indulge as much as I can.