I am writing this to my older self, so that in the future I might be able to handle the possible frustrations an aging fly-fisherman can experience, with as much grace as possible. And yes, I also write this to some individuals who have already become jealous and grumpy old men, possibly the worst kind of hater.
Last summer an individual made a big fuss and insisted that I stopped posting pictures of fish from the rather large area in Scandinavia called Sàpmi, an area stretching over 400.000 km2 in four countries. According to him, this vast fishery would be destroyed because of my pictures. I fished over large areas and in many rivers and lakes, but also in his favorite little river that, according to his line of thinking, he has been guarding like it was his own. The river in question is not exactly a secret. It is a good river, but its not like anyone can go there and catch lots of fish. As with every fishery, being at the right place at the right time is key. This summer, as luck would have it, that’s exactly what happened to me. While he was sitting on his ass drinking beer, I was out fishing and caught plenty of nice ones. Not only in “his” river, but in many different waters across the tundra.
So, the obvious reason for this whole debacle was that he was jealous, because I was catching a lot of fish, and he was not. And he wants to have his little river all to himself, and for everything to be as it has always been.
Now I am in New Zealand, fishing my way from the North Island, and eventually, down to the South Island as well, escaping the snow storms that currently torments the Nordic countries. When I arrived, there had not been much in the way of rain, and most rivers were running low with high water temperatures. I figured my best bet would be to go fishing in the many lakes up in the central highland plateau. Up there at higher altitude, it was still early summer. The flax had not yet started to blossom, but the damsel flies had just started to hatch. The water was still cold, and the fish were patrolling the shallows, in search of the damsel fly nymphs. I experienced great fishing in many of the lakes and sure enough, posted pictures on Instagram and stories about it all on my blog. That is after all what I do these days, indulging in my passions for fly-fishing, photography, videography and writing.
Now, according to the same previously mentioned individual, I was now well on my way of destroying the lake fisheries in New Zealand too! Although he has deleted me as his friend on Facebook, because I was posting more pictures there than he could stomach, he was obviously still paying attention and keeping track of my fishing adventures. And as before, he had been talking about me behind my back, trying to convince others that I was a wicked person that would bring on the fly-fishing Armageddon! He too had fished in one of these lakes some years ago. And as I recall, we had talked about it. He had fished the lake later in the season, in totally different conditions, with hot water and from a boat. While I had been chasing the early season cold-water edge cruisers from the shore, nearly drowning in the sometimes very deep mud on a couple of occasions. But still, whatever advice he had given me about underwater cold springs in the middle of the lake, that you could sink blood worm flies down to, was not relevant to the kind of fishing I had been up to. Anyhow, he seemed to reckon that I owned him something for this information. And that I should definitively not post pictures online from this lake, that he had been fishing one time in the past, while he now was back home in the cold of Norway, not fishing.
Let’s face it, we are all getting older. And as we get older, it will affect our fly-fishing in one way or another. Maybe on your fishing time because of work and family. Or maybe on your mobility, because that’s what happens when your body get older. Maybe you think you are the fly-fishing king of this or that river, but that image is now slowly withering away. Of course it’s all in your head. Younger fly-fishermen will hit the scene, and they will be fishing a lot more that you and catching much more fish than you. They will be fishing in your favorite waters and they will surely post pictures and videos from there as well, all over Snapchat, Instagram or maybe even in 360-degree VR. Who knows what technology will come and what the future youngsters will be up to online. But they will fish in other places as well, probably also in places you have never been, so it might be worth the while to pay attention.
The fishing in your favorite waters, and in all other waters, will change. Its just the way nature and the world works. Even though you might not like it, and even fight it, everything changes, all the time. These changes often happen naturally, but human activity might have an impact too. The fishing could either get better or worse. Old farts often talk about the old days and how everything, including the fishing, was much better then. But as I have experienced, the fishing can also be pretty darn good today too, maybe even better than in the so called good old days. Sometimes more fishermen can actually be good for a fishery, leading to increased average sizes. Many fisheries today suffer from the small fish syndrome, maybe in some cases the result of old-timers keeping “the secret” all to themselves?
Even though you might disagree with what other people do, overthinking it will probably not do you any good. It might be worth a try to provide some friendly advice, but to conspire and plot against others is surely a waste of precious energy. Most likely, this sort of behavior will not lead to any desirable changes. But the likelihood that you will get self-inflicted sleepless nights are highly probable. Therefore, the best thing to do is probably to focus on your own life and maybe even get out and go fishing. Life is too short to spend energy on negative thinking. And these people you hate on, probably don’t care about your moaning anyway. After all, they are out fishing!
As a wise man told me once, there are two types of fly-fishermen in this world. Those who can enjoy it when others catch fish, and those who cannot. The first one is probably the happiest one of the two. I have been doing a lot of fishing since I quit my job about a year ago, and as a result, have been catching a good number of decent sized fish around the world. As would anyone else doing the same amount of fishing as I have done this last year. Since I am also interested in photography, I have been posting pictures about it too. Hell, I have even had close friends say to me that they struggle seeing me catching all these fish. My lifestyle changes have made some people reconsider their whole life situation, even considering leaving work, wife and children behind and go full trout bum themselves!
But when it all comes down to it, its probably best to look at it with a positive and not a jealous view. One of my best friends is definitively in the first category of people, and although he admits he can also get a bit jealous at times, he manages to keep a positive attitude about it and to enjoy watching what is after all some very nice fish. And he does love fish and fly-fishing, so why not enjoy it? And he knows that I will gladly tell him about it, and when he does have time to go fishing, I take him with me and show him new places, increasing his chances of experiencing some pretty good fly-fishing himself. Seems like a more reasonable thing to do, as opposed to hating on others and crying yourself to sleep at night.
So, to summarize: try to stay positive, don’t worry about things you cannot control, mind your own business and don’t be a jealous grumpy old fart! You will sleep better at night, and probably have the energy to go fishing more too. Maybe even some youngster will take you on a trip and you can experience great fishing in places you have never been, and perhaps, it will be even better than in the old days!