Monday, July 10, 2017


One day a while back when I was out with my friend Noah just searching a few striper and sea run trout waters we stopped at a gas station. I needed some food and something to drink. I was in waders, wearing a hat with a fly on it, and I probably smelled of fish because we had just come from a place that produced a serious number of stripers. The cashier asked me if I had been fishing and if I had caught anything. I replied "Yup, some decent striped bass" and had a but of conversation I get all too often. This may not be exactly what the cashier said, but it should at least be close.

Cashier: "How many are you taking home for dinner?'
Me: "None."
Cashier: (looking very confused and surprised) "You mean you just let them go back? Why?"
Me: "I don't really need to keep them, and it's not good for the population to be keeping stripers regularly"
Cashier: (still perplexed) "I'd take them if you don't want them. (laughing) If you get more today bring them here for me".
Me: (chuckling and shaking my head) "Sure thing, have a nice day".

I have that interaction way more than I care to. Some people haven't the slightest clue why someone would go out of their way to catch a fish and not take it home to eat. I'm not sure I fully understand why. I mean jeez, the stuff I put myself through. Read my last post. The storm and endless miles of hiking wasn't even the full extent of the stuff I put up with. There were nettles everywhere, which are just evil plants. The mosquitoes seemed to ignore my bug repellent entirely. And holy crap was it ever muddy. Even the ferns, which had just been submerged by flooding and had not yet been full rinsed off, were covered in muck that got all over me and made me smell pretty much exactly like a turtle. That wasn't the worst mud I've put up with though. 

Why the hell would any sane person put themselves through that just to stick a hook in a fish's face, fight it in, and pull that hook out and let it go back to its habitat?

This spring I put in some serious time and effort to target stripers during the herring run in my closest small tidal river. I probably rode my bike 80 miles total during those trips, often returning home late at night or early in the morning, I battled wind, rain, and tides, and even got stranded on an island for an entire night. Why? 

Last year my Dad and I slogged through a gnarly swamp in the back woods of ME, ruining his back for weeks and making us both extremely sore and muddy. For some small (compared to some fisheries)  wild brook trout. Some of my fishing friends don't even get that one. 

There are a lot of us though, people who are obsessed with fly fishing, and who release more fish than they keep. People who will get dirty, walk far, loose sleep to find that fish. It's kind of like a sickness. And much like people who like pineapple on pizza, those who don't have it will never quite understand. 

It's something deep within me. That first week long boy scout summer camp where I fished almost every day woke it up 8 years ago, and I haven't been the same since. It's my life now. I've made some of my best friends through fishing, and memories enough for two or three lifetimes. At this rate I'll probably be a babbling nut job by age 60.  

(Malachi Lytle Photo)

This evening, or should I say last night (It's 1:06 already? Damn.) I fished with my best friend and my brother, and we got the piss beat out of us only to persevere and double up on stripers in the last inning. Mosquitoes, mud, razor sharp grass, and no-seeums made it almost unbearable.

(Malachi Lytle Photo) 

So why do we do we put up with these things just to hold a fish for a few moments?

You're asking the wrong guy. 


  1. Amen to that, right-on! For me it's about the experience, good buds and the hunt. The environment and weather are what they are. I know people who catch and keep only to find them in the freezer a year later and wonder why is this fish still here. A challenge is a challenge.
    Tie, fish, write and photo on...

    1. There are people who go to take a limit home and then there are fisherman.

  2. Rowan, it is not a sickness, nor an obsession, but a true "passion".
    Those that do not hold that true will never truly experience "fishing"

    1. I think at times its all three, or various combinations.