One of the many reasons I enjoy fly fishing is the time spent in the outdoors with other people, whether that be my wife, or other fellow fishing fanatics. Although camaraderie is generally desired, an occasional solo mission has it’s perks as well. Few people spend lengths of time truly alone. Sure you may not have a family member, friend or acquaintance with you at all times, but generally you aren’t far from other humans or human activity. Most fly fishing in our region is done a distance from cities and towns, so when you fly fish alone, you are alone.
Time spent alone fishing is a unique experience. With nobody to talk, distract you, or in that case assist you, focus tends to be heightened. The surroundings capture more of your attention. You notice the deer crossing the stream 50 meters ahead, the squirrels scurrying around the ground playing tag, or the big raccoon that is curiously looking at you through it’s mask, perched high in a tree–all things that would likely go noticed had you been with someone else.
It is also important that you pay closer attention the the stream bed beneath your feet. You should always been aware of where you are walking, but when you are alone, it is even more crucial. If you were to trip and twist and ankle, fall into a deeper hole, or get stuck in the mud (literally) there is nobody there to help you. Safety is a much more conscious thought when you are alone. One practice I typically follow is to send my wife a pin-drop of where I am fishing, so if I don’t return by dark, they know where to look.
Despite the above paragraph, there are perks to fishing solo style. You tend to focus more on technique, casting and reading the water. There is no rush and no pressure–it’s just you and nature. I would be lying if I didn’t acknowledge the fact that you also get first dibs, and all dibs for that matter, on the best spots as well. It’s awesome fishing with friends, taking turns, and sharing in their excitement when they catch fish, but on occasion it’s nice to be selfish and fish spots alone. Sure it’s nice to have someone to high five and take a picture when you catch a big fish, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still give a little holler when you net your own “biggie”, and stream banks work fine for setting a camera on for a “selfie”.
Recently, I was fortunate to have this scenario play itself out. I scouted a new spot on my favorite app, Google Maps, and went to check it out the following day. I parked at a downstream bridge and spent the next 3 hours working upstream until I came across the next bridge–the classic “bridge to bridge” as referred to by fly fisherman. About halfway through my trip, I came across a slow, deep pool with a down tree; a perfect spot for a big fish to be sitting. After a few casts of my large white, articulated streamer, a big trout came up from the depths and absolutely crushed it. I enjoy fishing white flies because A) they are affective and B) you can see the eat.
After what felt like a minute or so of battling the fish, I was able to scoop him up in my Dead Drift Net.
After gathering myself, I gently pushed the handle of my net into the soft bank to allow the fish to swim freely in my makeshift live-well while I set up my phone and camera for a few quick pictures. A good hack to use is take a “selfie” video with your phone holding the fish. When you’re done fishing, watch the video back and screenshot it at the best moment. I released the fish back into the water allowing him to return to his underwater treehouse.
The mile+ walk back to my truck from one bridge to another was a little easier having the feeling of success on my side. It was a great Friday afternoon, and a solid way to start off a weekend. This post isn’t to say I don’t want to get out on the water with you all, but if I go on the occasional solo mission, don’t take it personally.