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Posted on Sep 22, 2011 in Get Reel
Out of My Element
by John Brownlee
Carter Andrews (left) holds a nice cutthroat trout caught by the author.

Each summer, I take a vacation out west to do some trout fishing. This is, of course, an extreme departure from the saltwater fishing we cover in SWS, and it’s a great break from the routine.

It’s also a humbling experience because it reminds me what a lousy fly fisherman I really am. Fly fishing requires precise control and accurate casting, techniques which are only developed through extensive practice. I don’t practice enough, but when I find myself on a beautiful western river, casting at a trout I just saw rise, I suddenly wish I had. It always goes the same; The first day I cast terribly, but as our trip wears on, I begin to improve (slightly). By the time we have to leave to come home, I’m starting to get the hang of it, but then it’s over.

I fly fish in salt water too, of course, but not enough to call myself proficient at it, so this year I’ve vowed to get serious and strap on the discipline to really get better. I enjoy trout fishing, and I hate being incompetent at anything. Even though the fish you catch out west are tiny (most of them would make good bluewater baits), they are spectacularly beautiful, and the scenery surrounding you is the big draw. Montana, Wyoming and Idaho are about as nice as it gets, but you don’t want to be there in February. At least I don’t.

My biggest motivation to improve my flycasting skills came from my buddy Carter Andrews, who lives in the shadow of the Tetons in Wyoming and is the best flycaster I know. When I made a spectacularly bad cast one afternoon in the bow of Carter’s boat, he said, “Remind me to close my eyes the next time you cast.” “I’m not going to hook you,” I protested. “I’m not worried about that,” he said. “I just don’t want to have to see it.”

Motivation comes in many forms.