|Photo courtesy of Steve Zakur|
Here’s a dirty little secret about destination angling. More often than not, the fishing is disappointing. Contrary to what you might think, there is no correlation between how much you spend or how far you travel and your actual piscatorial success. If I’m wrong and there is some obscure equation, at its core there’s most certainly an inverse ratio.
Now there are lots of reasons for this – unfamiliar waters, new populations of fish, improper gear, unrealistic expectations – but the biggest, most frustrating factor is timing. We never seem to get it right.
We’ve arrived on The Gulf in the accompaniment of thunderstorms and tornadoes, spent entire Caribbean excursions under tropical rains, and trudged Baja shores mere days before the baitfish arrived (to be followed, shortly after, by the game fish we sought). With distressing regularity, the following week would have been better or the guide’s standard line that you should have been here last week applied.
So why do we do it? Why spend the time and the money, endure the travel, only to get it wrong time and time again? Why the risk? The rote answer is that there’s so much more to such trips than the fishing. The adventure, the companionship, the locations. Nice platitudes, and true to a point, but the reality is that there’s only one good reason to keep trying. Once in a blue moon you get it right.
Last week, we got it right. Really right.
We hit that sweet spot between upper Saskatchewan thaw and spring’s choking weeds, when the ice receded and the Canadian sun rode high and the big northern pike moved up into the shallow, open bays, hungry and mean from too long in cold, deep water. We chased out rain as we arrived and observed it returning in our wake, fished in shirtsleeves, watched big, bushy poppers get crushed by toothy finned dinosaurs, and wondered what we’d done to deserve such bounty. The answer, my friend, is that we’d simply kept at it.
So why is that man in the picture above grinning? Sure it’s a nice fish, but we’d caught lots of them, lots of them, with some a fair amount larger. No, he’s grinning because he and his buddies had just hit a hole in one. Teed it up nine months earlier, aimed at a cup the size of an eighteen-foot Crestliner, and let it rip. To everyone’s amazement and delight, it went in. We timed it right.
So now I sit here, back at home, having pike withdrawals, ready to head out again to be rained on, snowed on, blown off the water, or simply to be skunked day after day for no discernible reason in some far away hell hole. There’s dues that are owed and I’m willing to pay, because someday there’ll be another Saskatchewan…
…or maybe it’s all just the timing.