By Tyler Christensen:
As a fly fisherman, do you have those places that grab hold of a piece of you and you just can’t let them go? Somewhere that is just the right amount of torture mixed with euphoria? A recent trip that I took to Pyramid Lake reminded me of all the reasons that I love fly fishing.
The weekend started out with some slow fishing. And then… The slow fishing continued. The slowest fishing I have experienced in my 6 years going to the lake. Pyramid can feel like pushing your face against a grindstone. At one point during our trip, I had fished for 40 hours with only 3 bites. I was beginning to wonder why we had come. We were nearing the end of our final day of the trip. My eyes were weary from endless hours of watching my bobber float triumphantly, refusing to go down no matter how hard I wished it would sink. The bite had been pretty much non-existent besides first light, and right at dusk.
As the sun was sinking low in the sky behind us it finally happened. My buoyant bright orange friend suddenly sucked under the glassy surface of the lake. The satisfying whip of the fly line pulling off the water filled the air as I set. On the board for the day! The fish came into view, a cookie cutter (by cookie cutter I mean a 22+ inch Cutty you’d be thrilled with anywhere else). I was ecstatic. It felt amazing to stick a fish after such a long drought. I unhooked and sent him on his way.
I walked back to my ladder and casted out again. My fly had barely hit the water when my bobber shot under once again. I set and began stripping in another average fish. I couldn’t believe my luck after having to wait 12+ hours between bites every day prior. I climbed back out and sent my flies once again. A few short minutes passed as I gave my bobber a few pops and twitched it with a quick strip… It never came back up. I set hard for a third time. This time it felt much more solid than the other two. A few good runs later and I had a better fish right to the net. Or so I thought. As the fish neared the net, it got wrapped in my fly line. He evaded my attempts as I reached to untangle him, and in the chaos, my fly line tangled around the top section of my rod. Rookie mistake. As the fish headed back out into the lake, pulled the top of my rod straight off. As I battled the fish back in for a second time with ¾ of a rod, I couldn’t help but smile and laugh as he hit the net.
What a crazy and different trip. It felt great to be rewarded after 4 days of hard fishing. But in that moment, I realized that this trip wasn’t just about the fish. Yes, they are a big part of what the fly fisherman does, and definitely a driving force, but catching fish is actually just a part of the bigger picture. Fly fishing and fishing trips are about the journey along the way. They are about taking long drives with your friends, blasting music and swapping stories and laughs. They are about those nights where you only get 4 hours of sleep the night before because you are up tying and you need to be up at 4 AM to catch the morning bite. They are about not knowing what you are going to catch, but being filled with anticipation and for that shot at something truly special. They are about creating memories to reflect on and appreciate for a lifetime. Fly fishing is about catching up with old friends and making new ones. It’s about the places that you go and the places you aspire to go. I love this sport, and I love the places that it takes me. Fly fishing is something that rewards you for the time and the work that you put in, but the rewards come not only in the fish you catch but in the entire experience you live.
Sometimes you just need a reminder of the real reasons why you do it. This particular Pyramid trip, while frustrating and humbling at times, reminded me about the real reasons and true gifts of fly fishing. I am thankful for the incredible places that I get to fish, none of them more special than Pyramid Lake, and the truly amazing people I am fortunate to fish with.