Check your ego at the river | AspenTimes.com

Check your ego at the river

Scott Spooner
On the Fly

Jack Ries holds a rainbow trout from the Roaring Fork River.

The art of fly fishing can really mess with your self esteem. One day you are pretty impressed with yourself, and the next you seemingly can't function on the water. I had a dose of this last week after a blissful twilight green drake hatch below Aspen when I seemingly couldn't miss. The right place with the right fly is pretty zen-like in the evening around here. The next morning on the south fork of the Fryingpan, I couldn't even string the line through my rod properly, let alone make a cast without hanging up in the bushes.

Distraction is what it seems to boil down to on those tough days. If your belly is full, your mind blank and the beer cold, fishing seems to click a little easier — at least for me. When your mind is racing about every little stress you have (except for the task at hand), watch out because you're really going to suck. You have to let go in order to transcend the complications of insects, moving water and stop getting in your own way.

The best anglers I know have a bit of ego; one has to take charge once in awhile to be an effective fly fisher. Sometimes we have to seize control of the situation on the river, whether it's turning around a difficult client or heading to a completely different stream in order to save your fishing day. A bit of ego can be healthy when it's you versus nature, especially when you are matching wits with a pea-brained (yet often elusive) trout.

Choose your battles this summer if your confidence is slipping. Sometimes heading to less-pressured water, fishing early or late, or hiking up to fish over some "dumb" cutthroat and brookies can boost that ego back up to a tolerable level. I hope to see you out there this summer, and if you see me struggling, hand me a cold one.

This column is provided by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374.