The Long Haul Project is a Fly Fishing photography project by Rich Malloy and Rob Colameta. They want to show you the often forgotten parts of our beautiful sport.
I couldn’t leave. While the fishing had slowed, it seemed the sky would change every time I looked back up. I stood and watched waves of blue, purple and orange become painted across the sky, it didn’t look real. Every so often a fresh batch of schoolies would come through to push baitfish into the banks of the estuary, that would temporarily shift my focus back to the water. It wasn’t long until I was starring back up at the sky. It had changed again, this time more orange.
Most who fish the waters of Cape Ann in Massachusetts recognize this iconic location. It fishes just as well as any spot from shore on the fly: rats all day with the occasional 25”+ fish sprinkled in. For me, it’s not always about the fish. Those who spend enough time on the water understand this. They understand that a good day of fishing doesn’t always have to end with the catch of a lifetime. That sky will always bring us back.
They were just out of reach, the water was boiling with stripers rolling over sand eels. We’ve all been here before. Saltwater fly fishing from shore is rewarding but painfully difficult. The fish we saw feeding may have only been 15 inches or so, but I couldn’t stop trying. I was pushing my limits. The closer I waded to them, the less confident I became in my ability. No one likes wading (or casting) with waves relentlessly crashing into your chest. I knew I wouldn’t reach them, although I thought there was a chance one would slide in closer to shore. I was wrong, the school stayed put. This seemed to be a recurring theme for me for a few weeks this summer. I’d go out, run the shoreline, spot feeding fish and cast until my arm just couldn’t. I was content with it though. It’s saltwater fly fishing, from shore.
Still. A word that kept coming up about this photo when speaking to photographer Rob Colameta. The ocean was still. The sky was still. The breeze…was still. It was eerie. The fishing wasn’t great this day, but again, that didn’t matter to me. I was fishing. I didn’t have much time to fish this spot, the tide was coming in fast and we were quickly losing our jetty. I kept telling myself, after failing to hook up, just one more cast. We all know that never works.
In order to become good at something, you need to become obsessed with it. This is very true for fly fishing, a sport that presents you endless opportunities to learn something new every time you hit the water. You become a better angler with every cast and every missed hook set.
It’s important to know why you chose this sport. Ask yourself that question. Why did I choose to do this? Community. Conservation. Challenge. I’ve accepted the fact this is difficult and that’s why I continue to learn and become better.
Immerse yourself in your surroundings, become obsessed and attack the water.
It really is a Long Haul.
Rich Malloy is a passionate angler out of New England. Check out the rest of the Long Haul Project on Instagram @richmalloy3
Photos Courtesy of Rob Colameta. See the rest of his work on Instagram @bobby__snaps