How do you measure a good day of fishing, is it catching numbers of fish, quality fish, fishing for that one big bite that makes the whole trip “worth it”, enjoying nature, the mountains, or simply sharing the sport with others? We can all agree that all of these are great reasons to get out to our favorite body of water in search of quenching the unending thirst we have for fishing. The anticipation and beckoning of the unknown as we embark to the lake, river, or stream. Will this be the trip we land the “big one”, catch so many fish it’s uncanny, or will the ugly and putrid skunk hang around us all day? Those are typically the things we are taught to be in the foremost of importance when we go fishing as most of the questions we seem to get when we return from fishing are: “how many fish did you catch”, “how big were they”? Do you see what is happening here? We get so caught up in our own pressures of having to catch so many fish, or they have to be a certain sizenfor us to have what we consider a “good” or “great” day on the water, but we are missing out on the most important thing fishing truly rewards us with.
No one is immune taking things for granted, as we all are culpable of doing this on a daily basis. A perfect example being drinking clean water on demand. I remember days I would get so frustrated I didn’t catch a big fish, even though I would have 30-60 fish days. It wasn’t enough, I was better than that; or so my ego told me. I was so focused on the idea that a great day of fishing had to correlate with catching a big fish that if I didn’t it was a horrible day. Sure there were days I wouldn’t catch many fish, or the one fish I did catch would be big, and somehow this made me extremely happy, but was it really making me happy or simply feeding my self-image to share on social media. By that statement, “feeding my self-image”, I am simply getting at the aftermath of the catch. The social media post that would entail a few dozen likes, comments, pats on the back; they are great aren’t they!? We then have to ask ourselves if we are truly fishing for ourselves, our happiness, or are we simply fishing for others to see or brag to (don't get me wrong there's nothing wrong with that). It wasn’t until mid last summer that I realized what I was doing, and what I was putting so much pressure on wasn’t for myself at all. I was missing out on all the small things that makes fishing the challenge, therapy, and everything else it is supposed to bring you. It was a warm late summer day in the Gunnison area that a certain woman and her 11 year old son helped open my eyes to realize what I was truly missing out on and it was a truly humbling experience.
It was a spur of the moment trip to the western slope of Colorado to fish the famed Black Canyon. Anticipation and emotions were running high as we woke up to a very early 3:30 AM to embark on the three plus hour trip from Denver. Darkness faded into a stunning Colorado sunrise full of orange, yellow, blue, and purple mixed in with a few lingering clouds all perfectly silhouetting the imposing rocky mountains (another thing we take for granted here in Colorado). Such a pronounced sight to witness and soak in, cruising down highway 24 towards a new and unknown fishing spot (to me). I couldn’t help but just know this trip was going to be epic, as it was already off to a remarkable start! As I panned out of the corner of my eye it appeared that my lovely sidekicks had dozed off. Now I may have “accidentally” veered off the road seeking a bit of assistance from the “brrrrrrrrrt” as I ran over the rumble strips on the side of the highway in hopes of stirring my dreamy companions to share this amazing view with. It seemed to work as with a bit of groaning and stretching my passengers slowly awoke to enjoy the view as we inched closer to our destination.
Walking down the steps into the Black Canyon is a view to behold by itself, as you follow a small stream that steps down into the canyon with a few miniature waterfalls, and scenic overlooks as you trek your way to the canyon below. I must admit the high rushing water was a bit intimidating to dissect fishing wise with the limited gear we brought with and the task of teaching river fishing can be daunting without the high water. The fishing was slow, but the fish we did manage to catch were vibrant in fight, along with color. We stayed in an “off the map” lodge a few miles from the canyon up in the mountains. No TV or cell service, just a newly remodeled room in the mountains. We were initially disappointed not having these amenities, but after looking back we were thankful for one less distraction from what really matters. Instead of watching TV, we drove 20 miles back to Blue Mesa Reservoir and fished the shoreline for a few hours before dinner. The beauty of the canyon, and the Gunnison area alone made the trip well worth it. Sharing this adventure with those close to me was icing on the cake, and the fish we caught the cherry on top, sealing the big catch. Instead of taking the fastest way back to Denver we decided fish the Taylor River, and take Cottonwood pass to complete the experience and to cap off our scenic nirvana.
Have you figured it out yet? Fishing for Big Memories isn’t focusing on how many, how big, or the multitudes of species caught in one day, etc. Don’t get me wrong, all of these things are great too, but what really matters is quite simple. It is about who you are with, what immersing yourself into your surroundings, taking in the various aromas, the sounds, and yes even the wonderful mountain weather (both good and bad). The fact that we have the ability to travel hours to escape our daily routines to enjoy nature is something we have the privilege to experience that most of the world cannot for leisure. So often we get caught up in how bad the traffic is, or rushing up or back down from the mountains from our excursions that we fail to stop to take a moment and admire what we often take for granted living in Colorado. So do yourself a favor, take a step back the next time you embark on your next fishing excursion to take in the sights, sounds, smells, and full experience we are blessed to enjoy in our colorful state of Colorado. Share the experience with those close to you or even a stranger ! The important thing to remember is to share the moment of fishing for big memories.
This blog was originally posted on BTFM: http://www.btfm.co/fishing-for-big-memorie