I came up with the title for this posting because it just plain seems like I'm an idiot for continuously hitting the same water time and again. I have scoped out a lot of new water for later this year. Today wasn't so bad because I had found some potentially productive spots. But the one thing that kept running through my mind and has for the better part of my fly fishing hobby is what am I doing here on this stream and is what I am doing right?
Last year was kind of the exception. I asked myself that question just a few times - even though I had started out catching bass last year in January as our first snow storm moved in. Although, I had a feeling that it was going to be a good year, I did become bummed out in April. I had only landed just a few bass. I think the first bass was in March. But at least, I was catching crappie too.
When I talk to folks or post on Facebook, Twitter or blog, I always mention that I am having to "bang" it out. I say that because I supposedly live in a good region for stream fishing. Sure, there's the Kings, Elk, and Illinois and a bit further is Crooked Creek and the Buffalo. But you have to float those or know them by heart to land those nice ones.
I'm addicted to wading. Sure, I'll take out the kayak but I absolutely love wading. I have waded the Kings, Elk, Illinois, White (West, Middle and main branch) and countless small streams. And it seems to me that someone can fish decently by wading and it's only at peak times throughout the year that a fisherman can do really well. Especially, when he fishes just about every weekend at his favorite holes.
I do think that terminal tackle does have an edge over the finesse of fly fishing with all those vibrating, clanking, and rattling lures or yummy finesse baits. Which is why I think that landing bass on a fly rod is special and can take talent. I also think that it is the rare talent that folks can land fish as once used to be. Every now and then I see big stringers, usually crappie or white bass but it is rare that folks are pulling out stringers of bass these days.
There for a few weekends, I was landing about 10 bass which were small to medium size. For the most part, I fish what is considered a protected bass stream. Plus, if I fish in Arkansas, bass have to be a certain size and you can only keep two - especially if you are in on a Ozark Quality bass stream.
If it wasn't for panfish, I would probably have put my rods away a long time ago. I have been fly fishing in the Ozarks for about 14 years. Most of the streams are tough to access unless you have a canoe or kayak. There are a few prime streams here in Northwest Arkansas but further out into the Ozarks of Arkansas and Missouri, you can find some pretty decent stream fishing such as Eleven Point, Mulberry, and some other streams in MO.
Maybe I don't know what I am doing but sometimes, it makes sense. Every now and again, I can pull bass out with a crawdad and I can land them on a custom fly I threw together the day before. When it comes to bass bugging, it seems you need decent water for a productive evening. I found a small lake managed by AGFC that has tons of lily pads, fallen logs and rotted trees and cover. It's a great crappie fishing lake but can be very productive around the north end. I have bass bugged on just about every lake here in NWA and it's just like smallmouth fishing. Not every stream is going to be great. So, I move on this year to two lakes I have not fished in.
I may be rambling on here but it seems like to find that ideal water, I have had to hammer it out - hit the water wading or paddling. I haven't had any glorious moments like some of these outdoors writers where he goes out with his dad every fall in Minnesota to land amazing smallmouth bass. I kind of related to a story John Gierach wrote about going out for trout on pond but instead, landed bluegills that day - and enjoying it.
I don't go out for trout because the waters nearby are overcrowded and I think that most of the fly fishers who go there glorify it too much and try to keep up with the Jones' with their fancy waders and over-priced rods. I think it's funny to see a guy come out in Orvis boots, waders, jacket, hat and rod to fish trout in on a trout stocked stream that is over-managed by the AGFC and over-hyped by the state advertising folks. Bull Shoals seems to be the way to go for that type of dress and glorification.
That's why I can't stand fly fishing clubs (I'm gonna step on a few toes) because (from my experience) you've got a group mostly made up of bunch of very-well-to-do folks (usually folks that support Trout Unlimited or the Sierra Club) who talk up fly fishing (mostly trout fishing) like it's next to godliness and that bass and panfish come as an afterthought and would only do it on local well known spots after loading up their fly boxes with bass bugs from the local fly shop. If they do tie flies, it's usually in a traditional manner and not made creatively or unique. And lord knows they wouldn't hit a small stream with all their buddies for a load of Pumpkin Seeds and Suckers. It's always a pissing contest too.
So, when it comes to fly fishing, I do wade just about every stream around and am happy to have anything take my fly. I enjoy taking out my kayak too. But when it comes down to it, I'm always wondering if I'm an idiot for doing what I do. I guess it comes down to comparing yourself with the other guys or making goals and challenges and maybe not achieving them.
My father enjoys fly fishing for trout more than bass and panfish. He tried to teach me about fishing for bass and bream but all he knew outside of trout fishing was bass bugging in his friends pirvate stocked ponds. He was afraid to catch small fish too. He didn't even understand how to catch smallmouth. And these things even I have achieved. Even though I still think I'm an idiot for fishing the same waters and expecting the same results, I have taught my dad a thing or two about warm water fly fishing. Not to mention, he's shopping for a canoe or kayak now.
I may not be the best and I may not be the worst but I can catch fish all year. They may not be the best fish nor the toughest fighter but this idiot doesn't mind it. Take the year in stride. Don't go out every weekend. Lord knows I'm a tad bit burnt out. You can stress yourself out expecting big things every time you go out. And it will come to a point where you'll think your an idiot because you expect to land big ones every time you go out.