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Fishing Solo

Blog by: David Coulson 9/9/2015

Recently, I found myself without a fishing partner. My regular buddies were otherwise occupied. I opted to forego the last minute “hunt” for someone to join me fishing Joe Wright.  While I use the pursuit of a fifteen inch grayling, fulfilling my quest for a Master Angler certificate for that species, as my reason for fishing this high mountain reservoir, scenery and cooperative fish are equally good reasons for making the trip. 

As happened last year, I caught a fish I believe would have qualified as a master angler fish.  Before subjecting the fish to the stresses of measurement, I looked around the reservoir and, like last year, all the anglers I noted earlier had packed it in for the day.  So I simply released the fish, figuring it was better for the fish and me.  Had it measured over fifteen inches I would have regretted my decision to fish solo.

Unlike team sports such as baseball or football, sport fishing is inherently an individual sport.  Oh, there are team fishing contests where two or more anglers fish together as a “team”, but even there they are fishing individually with the hope their combined efforts will produce a win.  There are exceptions, such as marlin fishing, where a crew works together to catch and tag as many fish as they can within the allotted time. 

So why fish with others? Sharing time together, enjoying each other’s company while engaged in my favorite pastime is my primary reason.  Plus, two or more anglers fishing together often have greater success than fishing solo.  If each starts out fishing different flies and presentations, two can often figure out a pattern faster than going it alone.  Once the pattern is established, everyone can switch over to it.  Still, even with cooperation, each angler is catching their own fish.

As much as I enjoy company, there are times when fishing alone makes for a pleasant outing.  Such was the case on my recent trip to Joe Wright.  Yes, having a partner along might have gotten me my master angler certificate for grayling and maybe I’d have caught a few more fish by sharing knowledge with another. Maybe, but there are times when flying solo is just the ticket.

First off, the only person you have to concern yourself with is you.  While I often have a plan, the start of the day tends to be more relaxed.  There’s no need to be ready at a specific time.  No fretting over when your buddy will show or if they’ll be ready.  Just get up and get going at a pace that suits you. 

Joe Wright is a little less than a two hour drive one-way.  While company is nice on long drives, there’s a lot to be said for having time with your own thoughts.  Further, it’s a good feeling to know you’re not totally reliant on others to fill your needs.  Yep, you can take care of yourself, at least for a few hours. 

Joe Wright isn’t secluded, but traffic on highway 14 is light and barely noticeable.  Few anglers stop to fish and those that do generally fish from the shore.  Fishing from a float tube, I had most of the reservoir to myself, beautiful high country views, and enough cooperation from the grayling to keep me entertained. 

Yes, I do enjoy time spent with fishing buddies, but on occasion, it’s nice to spend a day fishing solo.  No schedule, no pressures, time alone to relax and enjoy nature and all her splendors is another side of fishing I enjoy.

First published in the Fort Collins Coloradoan September 6, 2015

Blog content © David Coulson
Blog Comments
anglerwannabe, 9/9/2015 9:01:26 AM
great blog Dave, I love fishing with others. Especially folks from fish explorer and of course the Boss. But my best fishing seems to occur when I'm alone. Maybe it's I'm more focused? Or perhaps more relaxed? But those are times when there are no restrictions. You come and go when you please as you please. Even when fishing with folks that are highly flexible you observe certain courtesies. When on your own, time with your own thoughts, and no cares replenish the soul.
tracks, 9/9/2015 1:44:53 PM
Fishing provide me with a whole lotta peace. I don't normally fish with a partner although I should at times. It's true being on my timeline is freedom!
D-Zilla, 9/9/2015 1:47:57 PM
You remind me of Church as a kid....sermon always seemed to focus on something I'd done. I was just faced with another weekend of solo fishing, and this pops up. I too do my best fishing solo, mainly because I'm not afraid to get up and chase the fish then. If they aren't where I am I move until I find them. It's not a totally bad thing, as you are less likely to fall in to bad habits and repeat using things that aren't working so well. The downside as I see it? Noone to help carry my gear!
David Coulson (Flyrodn), 9/9/2015 2:36:04 PM
Most times fishing solo is fine with me. The exception is when I take the boat out. In those situations having a partner to help launch, take-out, and share other tasks is nice.
opencage, 9/10/2015 8:54:03 PM
One thing I notice when fishing solo is I move around more, for good or bad. I'm also more willing to change up techniques or target species. When fishing with another on my boat, I really just hope to put them on fish and for us to have a good time (catching fish obviously helps). However, when on another's boat, like Dave's, I'll let them make all the decisions. I really don't care. It's just good to be out with a buddy fishing and let them to the driving and decision making.
FISHRANGLER, 9/10/2015 9:09:04 PM
Dave you really should be able to handle your boat no matter what situation your in. It sounds like a bit of fear. In time you will get over it. Practice makes perfect. So you need to practice more. It's just a phycological thing in your head that you need help. But you don't, or shouldn't IMO. It's just really planning out how to make it happen. Also as far as the MA goes you should have a plan for that. This is what I would have done if I was you. Unless of course absolutely no one else was around any where. You could have had a portable live well on shore. Five gal bucket with air And a I bet you could have kept the fish alive to get that MA cert you wanted. Good luck next time. And don't be afraid of your boat.
FISHRANGLER, 9/10/2015 9:19:35 PM
Fishing solo I do that a lot. But I find time for everyone that wishes to fish with me sooner or later. And the guys I want to fish with find time for me also it seems sooner or later. I enjoy fishing with my son. But I will always go spur of the moment by myself to save the trouble of planning everything that goes along with fishing with others. I don't stress so much about what that other person wants to do when I'm by myself.
David Coulson (Flyrodn), 9/11/2015 8:17:36 AM
No fear in using boat and I do fish it solo. When it comes to the boat I do have a preference of having a non-boater. It makes launch, loading, and prep quicker, which means less time on the ramp, more time on the water. As to MA's, the fish comes first. In the case of grayling, holding them is not an option. They fare worse than trout on that accord. In the boat I consider it for some species, but some don't do well in live wells. That piece of paper isn't worth putting a fish at risk, there will be another day.
panfishin, 9/11/2015 2:30:11 PM
most of my fishing has been solo trips for the past couple years as I usually don't get much notice i.e. the night before or less, and most of my friends have multiple young kids which makes breaking away a little difficult. They need more notice than that and they usually only get free time on the weekends for a couple hours.There always seems to be some sort of conflict that has prevented fishing with my friends.
Smelly, 9/11/2015 7:42:49 PM
I agree. My wife has been fishing partner # 1 now for over 20 yrs. I truly enjoy the fact that we can spend quality time doing something we both enjoy. But do to a fairly recent change in work schedules, our days off don't always mesh. I spend more time now going solo. Fact is, I kinda like it ! I didn't realize how much "Fluffy" fishing I was doing. Same old spots (predictable water) easy access ( no bushwacking) and priority # 1 close proximity to the Potty. Now when I go alone, I find myself doing the stuff that I know she would look me in the eye and say " You have lost you're $%&*#** mind', if I were to even suggest doing. And I would have to agree I may be a few cards short of a full deck. I'm in my mid 50's, but when I hit the water, it's like I'm 5 yrs. old all over again. You can't find youth in a fountain ( sorry, Ponce De Leone). But I find it at a good fishing hole! Lot's to be said about spending quality time with just a fishing rod and your thought's for companions.
fishmohr, 9/12/2015 12:12:43 AM
I had to think about your blog for a few minutes...when I fish by myself, I can experiment with different techniques, When I have a buddy along, they tend to get bored with the "grind", but it also give you someone to back the boat in and help with other things. Having fished tournaments for a lot of years, I know that a good partner can be of great value and an asset.. Different views and experience can cast lines towards greater rewards. Yesterday I fished by myself and did very well. Today, I fished with a buddy and we did well, but I give him credit, not once did he complain or suggest a new spot. If you are after "MA certificates" I would recommend a tape measure and camera to certify your catch. I have cleaned many MA perch and crappie....yummy. And never submitted those for my own recognition. But every fisherman has their own agenda.
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