I am a Lucky Man!

Why do I say that? Because I am married to a beautiful woman who loves fishing as much as I do! We plan trips together, research gear together and shop for gear together. I admit…it’s kind of weird buying two of everything, but hey, it’s worth it.

The trust level we have in each other is amazing. When I wander around the next bend leaving her behind, she knows I’ll either return or will be waiting for her. Usually I’ll scout out a riffle or pool, make a cast or two and wait for her so she gets a shot. If there is a tricky river crossing she knows I’ll stop and help her across. Her comfort level at stream crossings isn’t the same as mine.

Above all, she is patient with me. I am not a great teacher and she knows that. She also knows how to ask the right questions to get the answers she needs. Many times I stop just to watch HER fish. Offer up words of encouragement or pointing out prime spots for her to cast to. And for the record…she caught the biggest Velox I have ever seen (a little over the 3lb mark-a real trophy for these waters). The smile on her face was worth more to me than the fish! Needless to say, there’s a framed picture of the moment hanging on the wall.

Imagine fishing several miles of river…just two people who deeply love each other, not another soul within miles, in-tune with each other, laughing together, immersed in the moment and focused on each other and knowing that nothing else matters at that point in time.

So yes…I consider myself a lucky man.

So Why Do I Fish?

I’m not going to “wax poetic” on the topic. But I fish for several reasons. Simply put…I ENJOY it. But it goes deeper than that for myself and I’m sure for almost everyone else.

I enjoy figuring out “THE PUZZLE”. Where they are, what depth, what speed, what color etc etc. It is truly a multifaceted sport. I am not in it for the pictures, in fact, most fish are released immediately. To me, getting set up to take the perfect picture ruins the experience. Not to mention that to me, it seems as if the pictures I take do not compare to what the human eye takes in. It seems too contrived and catapults the fish into a “status” rather than where it belongs…as a worthy adversary that demands respect.

I remember an old saying…”no man fishes the same river twice” and likewise, “no man catches the same fish twice”. Or at least that’s how I see it. Time waits for no man and more and more I find myself slowing things down. Focusing on the fishing and tuning out the mundane things in life that are nagging and ever-present. It’s a nice break from reality really.

I find that the location is equally as important to me. I mainly fish in places that aren’t saturated with people and takes a lot of effort to get to. No cell phone reception is a HUGE bonus. My trips to Canada entail lots of paddling and portaging to get to where I want to camp and fish. The less people the better. I used to carry an axe to chop firewood but found that the noise that the axe made disturbed the silence I was in, some unknown violation of Wilderness Sanctity. I switched to a saw just to be less obtrusive in my environment. It’s about the entire experience, not just the fish.

Perhaps that’s why I am drawn to JDM gear? Maybe they “get it”. They know that quality supersedes quantity everytime. It’s the experience and the reverence for the quarry that combine to make lasting memories…or maybe I just think too much…”Fish Reverence”…is that a thing?

Aquatic Surveys

In July of 2019, the wife and I were fishing a particular stretch of river when we saw 2 kayakers coming downstream. They made a beeline straight for us and I told the wife to get her license handy. Instead of game wardens, they turned out to be wildlife biologist research students. After some small talk they asked if we would be willing to participate in a survey. (Note: most fisherman I know are tight-lipped and WILL NOT participate) We agreed and had a lengthy 45 minute question and answer period. It was a great interaction and they shared a lot of information. I would highly recommend interacting we these folks as the learning process goes BOTH ways.

A few weeks later, an official and lengthy survey arrived in the mail. I filled it out and voiced my complete OBJECTION to allowing other strains of smallmouth to be introduced into this watershed. Bass fishing is huge in Oklahoma and there seems to be some sort of tournament on the lakes weekly/monthly. I know there’s big money involved and I’m not knocking tournament anglers (I’ve fished tournaments) but why can’t we leave this watershed unspoiled?

I am not a hardcore environmentalist but I do believe in clean water and clean air and I’d prefer to see this watershed LEFT AS IS. Why do you think I try to leave my fishing waters cleaner than when I arrived? For others, our kids and grandkids!!!

BONUS: Those two research students gave me information that allowed me to open up about 8-10 more miles of river to fish! WELL worth the interaction and sharing of information.

Why I’m worried about the future for Micropterus dolomieu velox!

I have included links to a few articles specifically about the Velox to give you some insight into this unique bass as well as the problems we face.

Preserving native smallmouth (espn.com)

Smallmouth Fishing Deep in the Ozarks – Fayettechill

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (fws.gov)

Study will help fisheries management of a popular game fish—the smallmouth bass (phys.org)

Thank you for reading!