Sep 25, 2013

Is it worth my time?

It’s predawn, and as I stand knee deep in the cold water of the river, the world awakes, I hear the hum of cars and the roar of semis crossing the bridge just upstream above me. As they travel by, headed to wherever, and look down at me, I can't help but believe they’re thinking one of two thoughts. One is that that guy’s crazy standing out there in the cold water at this time of day...yes, 5 o'clock does come twice a day. And two, man I'd give anything to be down there, instead of…(wherever they’re going),
This brings to mind, the title of this blog post “Is it worth my time?” After guiding for 22 years and now working at the Gorge Fly Shop nearly two years, the number one question that I am asked when it comes to fishing reports is this one… “Is it worth my time?”

I guess the answer to the question depends on your attitude in asking it. For example, just the other day the phone rings in the shop and I answer it…”Gorge fly shop, this is John.” The gentleman on the other end of the line begins to ask me questions about the Deschutes River in a machine gun fashion. Before I could answer one question he would cut me off shooting me with another question, again and again. A few minutes pass and as our conversation comes to an end he ask me the dreaded question (in my opinion). “Is it worth my time?”

Now let me state that I understand that folks are too busy in today’s society and it seems every minute is scheduled out for something. I know that there are some folks who have a limited number of chances to capitalize on fishing days and they want to make the most of them. That said, in my opinion it is always worth it. If you have the morning off, the afternoon off or the day off, and its fishing season…go! If I waited for everything to be perfect to make it “worth my time” I doubt I would fish more than 6 days a year. Too many variables are involved. Too windy, too rainy, too hot, too cold, rivers too high, rivers too low, rivers too warm, rivers too cold, the numbers over Bonneville are too low, I got a hangnail… should I go on?

Don’t get me wrong, these are legit reasons to talk yourself out of going, we do that don’t we. I hope to change your perspective about this. The way I see it, the very reasons we could talk ourselves out of going are the reasons we should go. For instance, it’s pretty windy outside. It’s gonna be tough to cast and I sure don’t want to struggle and possibly hook myself with a cast gone wild. Plus that second cup of coffee sounds real good right now. It’s too cold outside; I’m not going out there.

Now the rod you got all ready the night before soon finds itself back in the corner of the garage waiting for the next “perfect” day. Ok, I’m making light of it. But honestly if you want to become a better caster and fisherman, when would the best opportunity to do this come? Your right, when it’s windy. You will never become a better caster in the wind if you never practice in the wind. If the river is low, clear and cold, when is the best time to become a better fisherman in these conditions if you don’t fish under those conditions.

I love Spey fishing for steelhead & salmon. I love Spey fishing for steelhead and salmon under all conditions. Because fishing under these conditions make you a better fisherman in these conditions. I’ve hooked fish in 10”of visibility, I’ve hooked fish when my guides were filled with ice, I’ve hooked fish when the windsurfers were killin it. A lot of fisherman wouldn’t even consider fishing under these conditions. I mention this because had I not went down and fished while the river was in that condition, I wouldn’t have learned how to fish in those conditions. Now I will confess that when the river is full of fish it helps. But my next question is this. Do you love the fish or do you love the numbers?

Bottom line is that I can’t depend on the Farmer’s Almanac or the Moon phase or that little app on my phone to tell me when it’s worth my time. To me everything counts. Being on the water, the casting, the smells, the sounds, the rhythm of it all and yes when it happens, the fish. Here is the point I am trying to make. Most folks who ask this question are usually (but not always) caught up in the numbers game.

Case in point, one fisherman called and stated that if he didn’t hook at least six steelhead, it wouldn’t be worth his time. I asked him, “Let me get this straight…you’re saying, if you hook only five steelhead today…it would’ve been a total waste of your time?” He replied ”Yes”. Really, are you kidding me right now? If you are caught up in this frame of mind, you will never be satisfied. If your focus is on numbers, too often your precious time on the water will be a disappointment to you. You miss so many other things that add to the quality of your time spent on the water.

One last example: another customer calls one morning and starts the familiar conversation and as before, when the conversation is coming to an end he ask the question… “Is it worth my time?” I then asked him “when was the last time he got out fishing.” He paused for a long moment then replied…”I can’t remember.”

What do you think my response was?

By John Garrett
Gorge Fly Shop Team

One of three Chinook that were caught while swinging in 10” of visibility

"Fly Fish the World with Us


  1. Jeez. Tell them to stick to golf: 18 holes for sure.

  2. Very nice article thanks for sharing !


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