The tough day

Not a bad fish.

Not a bad fish.

It was 10 years ago I went on a trip with my dad to the Babine River in BC to fish waters my dad and grandfather fished for many years, to fish a hole on the river named after my grandfather and to have a shot at a 20# steelhead.

That was my first trip to a lodge, my first week of lodge fishing. I had high expectations, even though I told myself not to.

The fishing was great. The catching, on some days, was not. I was surprised by that. It doesn’t get much more remote than the Babine and it has one of the best steelhead runs left in the world. I kind of thought it would be 10 fish a day and aches and pains from fighting all those many pounds of ocean trained trout.

There was at least one day I didn’t land a fish despite the routine of cast, drift, retrieve repeated 1,000 times.

There were fish caught… even some big fish (although not my 20 pounder), but there were still many hours of quiet, fishless contemplation.

It can be hard, mentally, to get to your dream destination and have trouble finding the fish. Not everyone can have the “it is great just to be here” mentality, especially on your first big trip. It gets a bit easier to take that mindset on once you have done a few trips and have come to understand even at the great destinations, the fish still don’t just jump on the fly.

Be it the Seychelles, the Bahamas, the Babine… fishing is still fishing and some days are better than others, so you better enjoy just being there.

Have you been surprised to travel across the world to find the fish lock-jawed?

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  1. Yes, it’s happened to me, though it wasn’t lockjaw, the result was the same. I did A Big Trip to Alaska a few years ago — float plane, 6-day wilderness float, fishing for big mouse-eating rainbows. What I did not know is that they were migratory/resident fish; they simply weren’t in the system, even though they should have been. With 4 skilled anglers I think we got less than a dozen among us. There were char to be had, but after a year of anticipation, the fishing was a letdown. But: one of the other anglers, who I didn’t know going in, has become a wonderful friend and saltwater mentor, so, on balance, it was wildly successful. The lesson learned for me is to ask the outfitter, or those who have been there before, in advance, “From a fish-catching standpoint, what can go wrong?”

  2. 4 trips to the Keys DIY fishing until I caught my first bonefish. But I believe the saying goes, “The journey is the destination.”

  3. Joel, Wow! I guess if you hear from the guide that the fish may not be in, then it’s not such a bad let down. Dan, That must have been disheartening. I have heard that the Bahamian bonefish aren’t such PhDs! -Though some areas have high pressured and smart bones. I’ve had plenty of days of skunking including guided trips. One guide in Michigan told me he had only been skunked three times in 20 years! I told him to cut another notch in his skunk pistol! I’m all for the philosophical approach to avoid dispair.

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