Now if there’s one thing all anglers have in common getting skunked and anyone who tells you they don’t is a liar. But you know what they say, all fisherman are liars, and that’s why they call it fishing and not catching, and the early bird catch…you get the point. Skunked, ghosted, striking out, whatever you call it; there’re hundreds of different names for it and ten times as many excuses.
As much as we all hate it, can we argue it makes us a better fisherman? That maybe it humbles us as anglers, more than it hinders us? Or are those the words of someone who was recently skunked…While it does happen to us all, there are ways to avoid making it a regular occurrence. Here are 5 different skunkers and advice on how to prevent yourself from becoming one of them.
1.The Spot Sticker
We’ve all been guilty of sticking to one spot for far too long. Either you saw a quick flash in a riffle, maybe you’ve had luck in that hole before, or ya just missed a “huge strike” a couple of casts prior. Good chances are if you’ve thrown a hundred casts into the same spot, every fish is well aware of you and your arsenal. Move on, go find fresh water, or sit on the bank and kick it for a bit. Either way, spot sticking is an easy way to burn daylight and lower your chances of getting your line tight.
2. The Entomologist
You know the one, out there spending more time with their nose buried in their fly box or flipping rocks, than with a line in the water. Convinced they’re fishing the wrong color, size or pattern, and constantly switching flies after a couple of casts a.k.a you and me on occasion…Yeah, we’ve all done it. We’re not saying don’t alter your approach, everyone knows you gotta figure out what the fish are eating. But at the end of the day, you’re not gonna catch a fish unless your line is in the water. If you’ve had luck with a pattern before or see other anglers using a similar bug don’t be afraid to keep it on for a bit and alter your approach as an angler. Sometimes its the hunter, not the arrow…
3. The SnugBug
Now on the other side of the spectrum, there’s the SnugBug. The times where no matter what, you just really refuse to change a fly. Sometimes it’s fishing in single-digit degree weather where tying on 6X with your fingers is out of the question. Or the fact that a pattern has proven tried-and-true all week long and one day it suddenly turns off. No matter the reason we’ve probably all been guilty of fishing the same fly for a little too long and it can definitely contribute to getting skunked. Don’t be afraid to switch it up.
4. The Jealous & Overzealous
The only thing worse than getting skunked? When you’re getting skunked and your buddies continue to catch fish in your face all day long…the nerve of those dudes. The only remedy? Wait for your buddy to get tight, wade on over, and punch him right in his smug little face. I mean really punch him too like ruin any chances of a future cool-Instagram post due to a bloody nose or something. Just kidding…kind of…I mean it could help…
But really, if you find yourself getting skunked and clearly there are fish present, take a deep breath, relax, and ignore your buddy hooking up for the fifth time. Getting frustrated is never a good thing on the water. Getting over excited because there are fish present is another great way to blow any shot at hooking up. They can smell overeagerness, I swear.
5. The Hero & The Zero
Been slaying it lately? Bad mouthing the intelligence of fish in your spare time perhaps? Listen, at the end of the day we’re all being outsmarted by creatures with the brain the size of a breadcrumb. But showing up to the river with a cocky attitude is an easy way to end up striking out. Put yer 3wt away, this pissing contest is over.
The Zero on the other hand. That’s the persona we’ve all encompassed at one stage in our angling career. Maybe you’ve been in a slump recently. Maybe the fishing has just turned off. Maybe you’re running out of daylight or just running out of ways to lie to your girlfriend or boyfriend about how many fish you caught. Sometimes we all dread being skunked so much we can hinder our chances of ever catching a fish. Again, leave your big head or your dread on the river banks and stick to the fundamentals until last light.
Now no matter what we do the truth of the matter is anglers will always strike out. Mark my words, as long as there are anglers they’ll be getting skunked. At the end of a no-fish day, I think we do develop an appreciation for the stealth and skill required to fool a fish on the fly. It keeps us coming back and eager to learn more about the sport but most importantly, it makes that next hook-up even sweeter.
Sometimes you are in the perfect spot and there are dozens of unsuspecting fish in that hole. Sometimes you might have tied on the perfect bug, in just the right size and color combo, and matched the hatch perfectly. And sometimes you can approach the river calm, cool, and collected, fishing at the perfect depth bouncing bugs of trout noses and you will still get skunked. So I’ll leave you with a quote…
“That’s why they call it fishing not catching!” -Every old guy you’ve ever run into leaving the river
Tight Lines folks.
A fellow Skunker
Article by Britton Beal