One of the themes we’ll be focusing on in TROUT is the ideal of being a “complete angler.” I think most of you probably already know the punchline… one cannot be a true “complete angler” without giving back in some way to the resources where you find fish.
I certainly believe that. I don’t think being an angler is any more limited to catching fish than being a farmer is about picking fruits and vegetables. That said, I also want to include posts on this blog that make our readers more effective at the fishing they love. So I’m going to offer up my best 25 tips for being an effective trout angler. These tips don’t include special knots and secret fly patterns, rather, they reflect the habits of the best anglers I have fished with in my travels for Field & Stream and in writing The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing with my late mentor, Charlie Meyers, former outdoors columnist for The Denver Post.
Tip number one came from Charlie himself, and that is, “do it all.” By that, he meant “all fishing is good fishing.” Of course, I feel (and Charlie felt… no doubt most of you do also) that casting flies at rising trout is a sacred art, and top of the game. But even though Charlie was one of the most gifted trout anglers I’ve ever seen, he also wasn’t afraid to mix it up, throwing big lures at pike, fishing topwater frogs for bass, chasing carp with a fly rod, even dunking a worm now and then to tease bluegills.
Thing is, all those lessons you learn by chasing other fish can and will come right back to the trout river with profound effect. Some of the best lessons I ever learned about how fish (all fish) react to currents were taught to me by B.A.S.S. legend Gary Klein. I’ve learned a lot about the colors fish see and react to while deep sea fishing. The school of hard knocks on long, stealthy casts and fly presentations to fickle fish might very well be the bonefish flats… or even, dare I say, that carp pond not too far away from you right now (this is a photo of Charlie and me, carp fishing several years ago, taken by our friend Will Rice).
Sure, it’s great to be a trout angler. That’s why you’re here, and why I’m here. But in my humble opinion, I don’t believe a singular focus can take an angler to the top levels of this sport. In fact, I believe the more you do, the better you get. That might be the best lesson Charlie ever shared with me.