Monday, March 25, 2013

No expectations...

Obviously, Charles Dickens was not a fly fisher. His epic tale of love, greed and manipulation was written through a completely different prism than it would have had it been penned by this wandering angler, even if the outcome is, unfortunately, somewhat familiar.

bahamas, fly fishing, bonefish, Long Island
Beautiful, but no fish.
I was just telling a friend at lunch today that most of my "big" fly fishing trips tend to be impacted in one fashion or another by elements beyond my control. And I tend spend the days and weeks leading up to "epic" trips counting my catch before a single fish comes to hand. 

Some "for instances":

Last March, I was invited to attend a writer's week at a lodge in the Bahamas. It's a far-flung place that not only requires you to get to Nassau, but then to a tiny little airstrip on at Dead Man's Cay in Long Island. The fishing was supposed to be simply outrageous. The lodge was great. The island was beautiful. But the wind blew and it rained, damn near the whole time. How many bonefish did I catch? Uh, never mind.

A month later, I took a quick trip down to south Texas and the Laguna Madre. The first half of the trip was impacted greatly by brown tide (yes, you can imagine the jokes), and the fishing was slow. The second half of the trip, the wind blew furiously, to the delight of the kite surfers off the coast of the barrier island. We caught some fish, but Mother Nature clearly won.

Later in the year, I had the chance to visit Australia on a conservation tour, followed by some fishing in the tropical north for barramundi. The weather during the tour was stellar. On my four-day trip to the tropics, it rained ... at the peak of the dry season. The take? A few jungle perch and a good, strong tug by something in the salty murk, but no barramundi. 

Denali, Alaska, fly fishing, grayling, Delta Clearwater River
Lovely view... fishing... not so much.
I finished off the year by visiting the Alaskan Interior, where I chased grayling on the Delta Clearwater River with an old friend who lives in Eagle River. We floated six miles of the crystal-clear river and saw thousands of fat grayling and big whitefish. It was chilly for September, and it rained a little here and there before the float. Grayling brought to hand? (Deep exhale) Not a single one. I did manage to have a few good days of grayling fishing on the Chena River later in the trip, but my efforts at chasing sheefish and pike above the Arctic Circle were derailed by rain and snow. I'm chalking it up as a good effort, but a loss nonetheless. 

Mother Nature 4, Chris 0. 

So this year, with a few epic trips on the calendar, I'm determined to board the planes with no
bahamas, Kalik, conch fritters, fly fishing, bonefish
Beer and conch fritter. And a happy
expectations. None whatsoever. As I told my fishing buddy Mike Sepelak the other day, the fishing could be amazing on the East Cape of Baja. But the drinking... well, that shit's gonna be epic. And, as I explained to another fishing friend who's going with me (and Mike) on a junket back to the Bahamas, the bonefishing is rumored to be excellent, but a guy can walk into a liquor store on Long Island and walk out with a bottle of Añejo for eight bucks, and a sixer of Kalik is dirt cheap. And Darlene's conch fritters are to die for.

I have no fishy expectations. None. Hear that Mother Nature? You can rain. You can blow. You can rain and blow, for all I care. Until you shut down the distilleries and breweries in the tropics, you can't ruin another trip for me. I'm packing the fly gear, but once I hit the ground, I don't care if I ever unpack a rod... between fish tacos, grouper fingers, rum punch and margaritas, I'm good. 

Old Mr. Dickens might be able to talk himself into hoping for the best, but I know better. No expectations. That's my story... and I'm sticking to it. 


  1. Spritzer season is right around the corner.....which is nice!!


    1. Indeed... that was one trip that lived up to expectations!

  2. I, on the other hand, have great expectations for these upcoming trips. I expect to have a @#$%ing good time. Fine friends, exotic locations, a fly rod in my hand. If a fish or two cares to find it's way to the other end of the line, that'd be cool. But if not, tendré otra peña colda, por favor.

    Can't wait, brother.

    1. Ah... that coconut rum concoction... I can almost taste it. Two weeks.

  3. I'm wondering why I am sitting here reading this and feeling sorry for your ass when I'm stuck in beautiful Colorado just waiting for the sun to shine and the snow to stop.

    1. Because you're a tender soul, Howard... a tender soul ;-)

  4. Like Mike, my primary expectation on a trip is to have a good time. Come hell or high water (well, maybe not when fishing), I expect crappy weather and am usually pleasantly surprised when the sun shines. You guys can handle the epic drinking responsibilities, I had my last in 2006. Humpy's, Anchorage, microbrews, after the float. Great trip, my head still hurts.

  5. Its the only attitude to have when traveling to far off places to fish. I've been to Athabasca when there was ice on the lake in July, Atlantic Salmon fishing in Quebec when ther ewas NO water (or fish), blown off the flats in the Keys more times than I can remember, and so seasick I wanted to die in 10' seas 40 miles offshore from Nags Head fighting 100 pound yellowfins (which aren't really anmy fun to catch when you feel good)

    Love the fritter / Kulik pic