Lessons Learned

Photos By: Justin Dobson     

Fishing is relatively new to me.  I didn't grow up fishing a lot and didn't get addicted to it until my mid-twenties.  What hooked me to the sport is when I took a road trip to Massachusetts in the pursuit of smallmouth bass.  Being from GA, I had never caught a smallmouth nor did I know of their existence, honestly.  But setting the hook and fighting some big smallies in a swift river current changed what I dreamed of from that day forward.

I have been very fortunate to travel around and catch some really exciting fish:  from those strong river smallies to backcountry swamp bowfin and trophy sized trout from a small creek.  I never have seen myself as an "accomplished" fisherman and my technique is imperfect to say the least.  I honestly don't know a lot, but what I do know is I have learned many a lesson during my fishing adventures, and this is a list of just some of them:

  1. You are guaranteed nothing and everything when you go fishing.
  2. Don't assume that iced tea and sweet tea are the same...learned that bitter lesson the hard way when stopping in Pennsylvania for lunch.
  3. Pinch your barbs before you get to the river. Otherwise you are wasting daylight and someone else might ease their way into that certain spot you had your hopes up for.
  4. 1 good cast is better than 10 crappy ones.
  5. Being skunked isn't good, but it could always be worse.
  6. Catching smaller wild fish is as rewarding as catching large managed ones, but large wild fish trumps all.
  7. Good fishermen live by the 3 P's:  Preparation, persistence, and patience.
  8. You don't have to have the latest and greatest to catch fish, but it doesn't hurt anything if you do.
  9. Always have a backup rod with you; whether it is in your car that is parked near the water or in your pack if you are miles away from the trailhead.  Nothing is worse than snapping the top 6" off your rod 4 miles from the car at 3pm.
  10. Learn something new each time you are on the water.  It might just help you land that trophy the next time out.
  11. There are snobs in every walk of life.  Fishing shouldn't be one of them.  Embrace anti-snobbery.
  12. Opinions are like butt cracks; everyone has one and they all stink.

 I’ve asked some of the crew to contribute their top lessons learned, and here is the verdict:


I can tell you three of the most important tips/lessons.......

  1. Hooksets are free
  2. Presentation usually trumps fly pattern
  3. Bring alcohol


I can agree with much, if not all of what has been said, but here is my two cents for what it’s worth.......

  1. Don’t be threatened by those who may look like they know more than you.  Get out and fish.
  2. Matt’s number 4 is spot on and coincides with number 7 where he forgot the 4th “P”.  PRACTICE.  Get out in the yard and make the neighbors think you’re weird.
  3. Practice and understand good fishing ethics.
  4. Matt’s a sandbagger
  5. Don’t drink the alcohol until the day’s done.  Or you’ll be fishing flies out of trees all day.