At some point in the last few years, “trout” has become a dirty word among my friends. I’m not sure when or why this happened but, judging by the look of disgust on their faces whenever I suggest the notion of looking for risers or floating a river that’s not bathtub warm, it’s happened. I mean, honestly, you’d think I was suggesting we all sit in a circle for a round of sexually awkward show and tell. It’s reverse fish-ism in its most insidious form, and I, for one, am tired of living in shame. I’ll say it loud and I’ll say it proud, “I fly fish for trout and I don’t care who knows it!”
So in order to inspire my other trout fishing brethren out of the so-called salmo trutta closet, I feel it’s time that someone stand up for trout since they can’t stand up for themselves (no legs and all). It wasn’t always this way. I used to be able to walk into the bar and proudly pronounce that I netted a 20-inch trout on a size-20 fly. Not only would I be respected for my accomplishment, I would be revered like a warrior of old (some awe-inspiring shit a 20 on a 20 used to be). These days, my accomplishment is cast aside like common refuse and I have to endure more talk of flats and toothy critters.
I understand that catching a musky on a fly is a pretty damn special accomplishment in the career of any fly flinger (one I have yet to achieve myself, damnit) but there’s only so many conversations I can take about the finer points of the figure-eight versus the hi/lo oval. The boredom of throwing a 10-weight for days on end without seeing a fish starts to creep into the conversation, and before I know it my thoughts are turning back to my trout, my abundant and catchable trout. I guess the older I get and the less time I have to fish, the more I actually like to catch fish. What a novel concept, huh? Going fishing with a reasonable expectation of catching fish.
Trout don’t live in ugly places. We’ve all heard it and I’ve said it on countless guide trips to rubes that eat up that sort of cliché. The opposite side of this coin is, carp do live in ugly places. There is no denying I see way more empty 40s, hypodermic needles and used prophylactics on the carp flats I frequent than my beloved trout streams (well, marginally more anyway…clean up your shit, people). I also won’t deny that seeing a double-digit golden-bone hoover a fly and explode is enough to make a grown man go weak in the knees, but the homeless hepatitis patient under the bridge or the dick on the jet ski does tend to detract from the overall experience. Give me a quiet trout stream any day. Hell, give me a marginally crowded trout stream, because jet skis suck. I mean, if you own a jet ski you should be dragged out into the street and beaten for your stupidity as an example to the idiots on your block who own jet skis.
The last argument I will make in my treatise on the defense of trout is that there are no tides involved. When I say tides, I also mean grey skies. The requirements for a good saltwater fishing trip are many, none of which you have any control over. The requirements are so stringent that I now don’t even head to the coast unless I have four days to pursue my query. This time commitment doesn’t stem from a place of greed, rather a place of practicality. In a four-day saltwater trip, the weather is going to suck at least three of those days. And if you are uninitiated in the saltwater game, when the weather sucks, the bar is always open. I have never been more hungover than on saltwater trips. It’s not so much a joyous celebratory drunk; it’s more like a drunk of despair and hopelessness as you look at a radar screen that just keeps puking up primary colors for days on end. Trout eat when it rains, you don’t have to see them to catch them. Conditions aren’t always perfect, but I guarantee there are a lot more good trout days to be had through the course of a season than good salt days.
Trout may be popular among the masses, but this disturbing counter-trout movement that is developing in the dank basements, dive bars and methadone clinics of the South is starting to gain a foothold. Self-respecting trout fisherman have to stand up now and proclaim that trout are just as cool as any other fish and we are in no way inferior because we choose to fish 6X.
We’re here, we drink beer, and we love trout.