By Dave Glenn
I do it once a year. Me, a fly rod, four horses and a couple of dogs. When the heat of the summer is in its prime I’ll head for the mountains for a week of “Dave solo time.”
I don’t do it to get in all the fishing I possibly can and it’s not about covering all the country I can. It’s about going into the wild country, slowing things down, and clearing the brain. It’s about continuing to gain competence and confidence in my backcountry skills. It’s about coming out grizzled, smelling of campfire and rejuvenated. If I catch a fish or two along the way. . .well that’s just a bonus.
People fish for different reasons and more power to them. I will say “the cool scene” is always tough for me. Cool bro-bras hanging out on the ramp talking about their epic fishing day, making fun of the worm plunkers and figuring out what they’re going to post on their blog when they get home. There’s nothing wrong with it. In fact it’s great they’re getting out. The more people we have appreciating these great public land resources the better. But it’s not for me. I fish not to tell the story but to live the story.
On my last solo horsepacking trip I realized I’m finally hitting it. The progression, the evolution. . . where I want to be. My old man used to say “I don’t care if I catch a fish, I’m just happy to be out.” I never understood that. When I was a pup, I just wanted to fish every waking moment. As I progressed through the years I moved to wanting to catch a lot of fish, then big fish, and then wanting to outthink the tough-to-catch fish. There were several stages in-between.
Sometime in there my old man taught me to fly fish. I don’t consider myself a good fly fisherman. I will say it feels really good when I can occasionally put a bug where I want along a seam or in front of a rock. That feeling, you know the feeling. It clears the brain.
Nowadays it’s about where I go. It’s about working hard and seeing no one. It’s about appreciating cold, clean fishable water in wild country. It’s about peering over the bank and watching native cutties as thick as pink salmon doing their spawning dance in high mountain streams. It’s about setting the rod down occasionally and looking up, following fresh grizz tracks as you hike the game trail down to the creek and watching waterfalls cascade hundreds of feet down granite walls into crystalline dark blue lakes. It’s about sitting on a mountain lake shore at dusk and seeing thousands of fish rise at the same time.
It’s not about telling the story but being the story. And I can finally repeat what my old man used to say. I don’t care if I catch a fish, I’m just happy to be out.