You hear it a lot, “Man was this a good day on the water, wow, it was a good day on the water…” and on and on.
Means only one thing, no fish.
So am I the only guy who gets jacked up when sitting in a boat, walking up to a stream bank, or standing on a beach tying on a fly or lure, who is thinking, I’m not leaving till I get one?
Does that explain why they call it getting skunked? Because as you know and I know, not catching fish stinks.
I sat with Pat Ehlers, owner of The Flyfishers fly shop in Milwaukee, as a good a man as you’d ever want to meet, in his jet boat on a lake full of bass and Pike. Weather had moved and the fish shut down. In three hours I caught one fish and tagged four, he landed four and tagged a few. He was throwing hardware and I was trying to figure out how to steal the new prototype fly rod that he let me cast.
So this topic, a good day on the water came up. “Sure, we all love a good day on the water, that’s when we take our kids tubing or water skiing. Not fishing. My ego won’t let me get off the water till I catch a fish or the person I’m with catches a fish.” This explains why we didn’t get the boat in until dark.
Getting skunked justifies just about any expense in fishing. It’s a great reason to buy a boat – now you can go cruising for hungry fish. Waders to keep you warm while you walk in cold water chasing hungry fish. A new rod because the old one just couldn’t get the fly, lure, live bait, or your special concoction, to the hungry fish. A new reel because the old just can’t handle the new lines and doesn’t hold enough backing for the cast you need to make to get to the fish that is hungry.
We even have our own lingo: the smell is on you man, the stench is strong, the funky odor has fallen overboard, finally- we’re skunk free and many more that I am sure you’ll want to share with us. There’s a number of expletive ones as well but way too many to list.
And a good day on the water has even made some of us liars. You fish all day and nothing, your buddies ask, "How was fishing" You look them right in the eye and say, "Fantastic, it's was a fantastic day on the water." And you describe a day you never had. Then it's to the couch and the catalog, on-line or stacked at the end if the coffee table.
It comes down to being predatory creatures. We don’t want to go home empty handed, even though we practice catch and release and we use barbless hooks, there is something about bringing that fish to hand that is damn near intoxicating. You ever get that big fish and afterwards need to sit down and have a cigarette? You know what I’m talking about, that fish that beats you up and fights like hell, you’re looking at your rod all bent in half and thinking, how big is this baby? Or when a fish takes off and you hear the reel going like the last few notes of a Billy Idol song. Sure you do and suddenly your adrenaline jacks up and you’re trying to remember everything you ever knew about fighting a fish. Please note: we play or fight a fish, it’s not a dance, a stroll or short walk with a fish. And even if we don't get that big fish, at some point, any fish will do, otherwise Pat and I would still be out there.
And nope, I didn't steal the rod, but here's some specs, manufacturer - Echo, weight 7, fit and finish -excellent, cast ability - I cast it for three hours, never had any fatigue. I threw it with a minnow pattern that Pat is working on and it is good for long casts or short casts and I'd call it a medium fast rod, length - 8ft 4" and it will make a great largemouth or smallmouth rod. The line was also a prototype but in an upcoming interview, I'll let Pat tell you about the latest developments.
In the meantime, have a lovely day on the water.
Stuart Van Dorn