“It’s just a small brown”
Last year I made the 10 hour trek to New York’s Salmon River. My feelings were mixed going into this trip. I had listened to story after story about how difficult these fish were to land and as you know, I’m still a newbie with a lot to learn so I was nervous and anxious. I had little to no expectations of landing a fish. This was more of a practice run of sorts for me.
I remember standing in the river while the water rushed by me in my waders threatening to wash me down river like all the rest of the dead king carcuses. With the stench of rotting fish in the air, I couldn’t decided if I was about to experience something incredibly amazing or incredibly insane.
After two LONG days of standing in the ice cold water waiting for one of these legendary fish to gobble my fly, I was starting to realize my expectations for this trip were spot on. That is until I hooked onto a HUGE fish. I had never had a bigger “Fish On”. My heart was pumping and I was shaking. I started to make my way to a shallow water to net my HUGE fish when I hear over my right shoulder, “Oh, it’s just a small brown”. Just a small brown? How could he say that? Who said that? Turns out it was the biggest fish I had ever caught. This was not “just a small brown”. I left there feeling hurt and angry that someone would burst my bubble sort to speak with a comment like that.
Fast forward one year. I was making the long drive back to NY and this time I had expectations. Hopes of actually catching fish. Maybe not a lot of them but at least one or two. A whole year’s worth of experience under my wading belt. This has got to help…right?
I get there to find the river blown out from all the recent rain. Thinking all my hopes of catching fish were floating down river, I began to lose hope and thought this whole thing was insane. But all that changed after a little secret intel. Before I knew it I was on my way to a complete game changer!
Here I was, standing in the water, in the same waders as the year before, yet this was different. And by different, I don’t mean the new wading belt I received from Fishewear! Though it is my new favorite piece of fishing gear!! It was different because I felt confident I was going to be able to land a fish this year. I knew I could do it if only I had the opportunity. Well, this was it. Opportunity was rushing by me, I just had to cast. And cast I did! My first cast…Fish on!! Fish after fish I brought to my hands. Much like the “small brown” I caught the year before only bigger! The rush was unlike anything I had experienced.
That day and the next two days were filled with nothing but fish. More fish than I could have ever imagined! This was a trip of a lifetime for me and I found I got very emotional about my experience. Not only had I caught fish… I caught big fish! Fish that I may never catch again. They were HUGE and they were beautiful, both browns and steelies and it changed how I felt about myself. For the first time I felt like I actually knew what I was doing, that I was progressing, learning and most importantly improving! I did it… I went to NY and landed fish!
Looking back at my two experiences in NY, I realize many things. I’ve realized that the gentleman who said “ it’s just a small brown” said it because it was just that, a small brown. He was making a truthful statement and wasn’t saying to be mean, hurtful or insensitive. His statement last year gave me drive to prove myself as a newbie. I am now thankful for that experience and allowed it to teach me that I CAN do this!! I can fly fish and I love it! I’ve improved tremendously over the last year thanks to my amazing fishing partner who continues to teach me even when he’s not fishing!
Lastly, I’ve walked away from this trip with strengthened focus and determination to be better and improve even more. It inspired me to start a list of places I want to fish and fish I want to catch. A bucket list of sorts. Imagine that people, a newbie with a fishing bucket list….