You must lose a fly to catch a trout

Every year my friends and I go on a fishing trip to a very desolate place called Fish Camp north of Kamloops. To get there we have to drive five hours, plus an additional hour up a very bumpy and dangerous logging road, hike in literally more than our weight in alcohol down a treacherous and bear ridden path, and row across an entire lake. The only guiding light is usually a pretty neat looking headlamp or if we're really desperate, the dim glow of an iPhone with no service.

Like catching a fish, getting to the destination is not easy and some people might even say it's a lot of effort simply to row around a lake (sometimes in the freezing cold) hoping to catch one or two trout. But any good angler knows that fishing is about much more than knowing how to tie a fly and drink a beer while smoking a cigarette and rowing. In fact, there are many life lessons to be learned from fishing.

1) The early bird catches the worm

This old fishing saying is actually not always true -- in fishing or in life. At Fish Camp I'm usually too busy putting Baileys in my coffee and hovering around the bacon to get out on the water before 11 a.m. anyways. People tend to subscribe to the idea that if they're not first out there, they're going to miss out. This is where competitiveness and jealousy stems from and should be avoided at all costs. Anything you want in life, be it a 15 inch trout, a job, a hot babe or a million dollars will still be there after you have brushed your fucking teeth. So chill out.

2) Be patient

The early bird may or may not catch the worm but the impatient fool will never catch anything. Fishing is not an edge of your seat activity. It can take hours of rowing around in a boat until you get a bite.  For this reason, patience (and beer) are pretty necessary. My parents always told me that patience is a virtue and that may be the only thing they were ever right about.

Everyone knows that the anticipation of getting something is better than actually getting it. That is why men will go traipse around the woods unshowered for days, sleep in smelly tents, eat canned beans and make strange animal calling noises in the insane ritual called hunting that they enjoy so much. The anticipation of chasing and killing a wild animal is far more satisfactory than eating the delicious venison roast you have to subsequently prepare for your gloating (and hopefully now showered) boyfriend. So while the only action you may have for hours is a piece of lake kelp getting caught on your fly, keep in mind that fishing is a journey and not a destination and remember to enjoy every moment of it.

3) Fish on

Sometimes you will catch a fish. This feeling is very similar to falling in love. Endorphins pump through your body. You feel light-headed. Your face is resting somewhere between looking really fucking happy and absolutely terrified. Your first instinct is to reel that fish in as fast as you can, throw a net over it, drag it into your open arms and bonk it as hard as you possibly can. In fishing and even more so in love -- this is not advisable.

4) Giv'er some line

Sometimes when you get a bite the best thing to do is to giv'er some line and let the fish swim for a bit. This gives it some time to swim normally, thinking it's still free and independent and gives you time to sink your hook even deeper into its flesh, thereby ensuring that once you do start reeling it in, you won't lose it. This is an especially good strategy if the fish is proving to be a fighter. If it's pulling at the line, let it go or you'll both end up in some deep water.

5) Bonking vs Catch and Release

Once you've successfully reeled in your fish it will be flopping around the floor of your boat thinking its life is over. It's normal to feel completely conflicted at this stage. It's hard to know if every fish is a keeper or not. In this case, size definitely matters. If it's a big one, you're going to have to bonk it. If it's a small or medium sized fish that you have mixed feelings about, you may want to consider the heartwarming ritual of catch and release. This ritual is good for both parties; the fish gets to go back into the pond and live its life free and clear and you get the satisfaction of feeling like you haven't forced it to endure torture and eventual filleting.

Bonking is a little bit more complicated and an aggressive approach is encouraged. Women tend to want to bonk less than men. It can be pretty messy so come prepared with some safety gloves and goggles. In the end, you just have to really go for it and give it your all. A couple gentle taps on the head really isn't going to do here, so don't be shy and experiment with different techniques depending on the fish.

6) There are many fish in the sea

Although at times it may not seem like it, there are in fact, many fish in any given pond, lake or ocean. If you're not catching any it could be because of the time of year, your boat, your approach, or the size and shape of your rod. Always bear in mind the image you're portraying to the fish. Is your fly too bright and flashy? Are you using a floating line when you should be using a sinker? Are your friends in the boat too loud and obnoxious?

7) You must lose a fly to catch a trout

In fishing and in life you never get something for nothing. Every angler knows that when you take something from the water, the water usually takes something from you in return. Sometimes it's your flip flop, your fishing knife or your hat but occasionally it will be a possession more serious such as your dignity or your portable Bose speakers. On the other hand, when something great comes into your life (such as a delicious trout) you usually have to give up something smaller in order to attain it (the fly). That's just how the universe works. It's the same reasoning behind fasting, lent and when your friends tell you to dump the guy who is wasting your time. Especially with the new year fast approaching, make some room for your big catch and always remember -- be careful what you fish for!

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