Once in a while, we as anglers hit the mother lode. Instead of catching nothing, we are catching everything, seemingly all at once. Non-stop fish, one after another, big ones and little ones. Which brings up this question: How many fish are enough?

I was once flyfishing for northern pike in far northern Saskatchewan (photo). There were lots of pike, big ones to 40 inches and more, and they were very easy to catch. At one point, I caught nine large pike on nine consecutive casts to a particular spot. This was from no particular skill on my part. The big, dumb fish were just that willing.

After a while, the novelty of this fishing wore off. There was no challenge to it, and it got kind of boring. So we quit pike fishing for a while and started flyfishing for lake trout instead. The lakers were much harder to catch, and when we did get one it was that much more of a thrill.

I have at various rare times caught other fish in the super-abundant manner of those pike. A blitz of stripers once, where the fish were feeding so eagerly they were bumping into the sides of the boat. A spring run of steelhead in a small creek, where on that particular day the fish were packed literally bank-to-bank and catching one involved no more than just dropping a fly in the water.

Those were extraordinary counterpoints to the many days most of us spend seeking the same fish to little or no avail. Like you perhaps, I have spent many long and lonely hours wishing for a single fish, a striper’s swirl or the gentle pluck of a taking trout.

So I might thus revel for a little while on hitting the jackpot, but the revelry doesn’t last long. If the fishing is too easy, if there are too many fish, where’s the fun?