Stillwater Angler Fishing Report
Now that it appears runoff is upon us and likely to stay for a while, I was thinking, what should I write about this week? I usually write about some specific technique or topic related to fly fishing that is relevant for the time of year. So instead, I thought what about the importance of recreation, particularly fly fishing, and the role it plays in our lives?
The Memorial Day weekend is always a bit of a somber occasion. It makes me more mindful of the tremendous sacrifices that have been made in order for us to enjoy the freedoms and liberties in this country that we do.
It also makes me reflect about how blessed we are to be able to live where we are and to do what we do. One of the things that I’m constantly aware of every day I’m out on the water is just how fortunate we are to simply live here in Montana. To have the opportunity to recreate in this environment is a bonus.
I looked up the definition of the word “recreation” just to be sure it meant what I thought it did. It’s defined as, “activity done for enjoyment when one is not working.” Note that it says for enjoyment and when not working.
I think too many folks hone in on the activity part and forget about the enjoyment aspect. Although I use fly fishing as my example, I think this is applicable for all forms of recreation. As part of my business, I take others recreating. When I encounter someone who is all stressed out because they’re having casting problems, or the fishing just isn’t turned on that day, it makes me think, “why are you doing this?” It’s supposed to be fun, relaxing and enjoyable. Most of us have enough daily stress in our lives with work, family and relationships, etc.; do we really need to add to that?
As for the “”when not working” part, why do some folks insist on staying connected to their work when they’re out on the river? You know the type; the guy who is frequently checking email or on his cell phone back to the office. Fortunately cell service is pretty sketchy at best most places we go, and I usually recommend just putting the device in airplane mode so they can still take photos, but not run down the battery.
A discussion about recreation can’t be had without including the issue of the resource. We’re so fortunate that as man, we have the gift of nature to interact with and enjoy. Many of us make a living from the use of the resource….I do. Here in Montana, water and its access and quality drives the economic engine for many of its citizens. My experience has been that the vast majority of those who do derive a living from the water are not just consumers, but are good stewards of that resource as well. We owe it to future generations to provide them the same opportunities that we’ve had.
Places like Montana have always placed a high value on the rugged individualism ethic which I believe in and cherish. This value must also continue to be instilled and reinforced in future generations. I think this is an extremely valuable part of the heritage of the American West and makes it the unique place on the planet that it is. Think about it.
Few places have such a combination of a vast variety of geography and terrain coupled with an incomparable spirit that makes this such a great place to live and work. We must strive to continue to keep it that way. All any of us can do is to do what we can in our little piece of the world. So whether one derives a living from the water or just enjoys its use for recreating, strip the politics aside and simply do what is right for you to maintain its quality and availability.
So I guess what I’m saying is that sometimes we’ve allowed recreation to become just one more activity that is competing for space in our lives. Instead of providing the break or outlet as it was intended, it’s become just one more thing that needs doing. For just one day, that day on the river, focus on the enjoyment and not working parts of the experience. There may be others similar, but there will only be one day exactly like it.
Chris Fleck owns and operates Stillwater Anglers Fly Shop and Outfitters in Columbus.