Is that okay?

Sometimes, when I am guiding, and the sport I am with is particularly arrogant, or disrespectful of the river and the resource, and they look at it all as a numbers game, it bums me out. Sometimes, when that person is hooked up on a big trout, and they’re fist-pumping and whooping it up, when the trout happens to spit the fly, I’m not bummed. I’m happy. Nobody knows the difference. But if they do, and it digs into my tip at the end of the day, I really don’t care.

There are also times when I am fishing myself, and I hook up on a trout, or a bass, or even a tarpon… and that fish wiggles off, after which I can only shake my head in wonder. I know I didn’t deserve it. It’s those times that make me appreciate landing a big fish even more. Without the misses, we wouldn’t appreciate those epic catches, now would we?

“That’s why they call it fishing, not catching,” they say. I’m fine with that.

Then again, there are other times when I find myself wishing and praying that a certain fish gets landed, against all odds. Sometimes, when the fish is hooked the right way, you throw everything you can, by way of Karma, behind the hope that the fish ends up in a net. Call it justice.

That’s still weird.

Maybe that’s why I prefer dry-fly fishing to nymphing.

Nymph fishing is a form of fly fishing where the angler is able to impose his or her will on the fish and force a bite, rather than being in tune with what the will of the fish is, and being able to react and apply skills that fairly challenge thousands of years of natural instinct. I’d take the latter over the former, any day. And I think a trout landed on a dry-fly eat is worth 25 on a nymph. But that’s just me.

For me, it is never about how many. It’s always about how. And some of my favorite fights, and best fishing stories, revolve around scenarios where I never actually fought the fish to hand.

What’s your “trophy?’ Is it the photo? Maybe the likeness on the wall?

Or is it something else?

More to the point, I wonder if you’ve ever cheered for the fish on the other end of the line.

If so, tell me about it, and I’ll award the best comment with an autographed copy of “The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing.”