Background: Yellowstone cutthroat are in serious decline in Yellowstone Lake largely thanks to predation from an exploding population of invasive, non-native lake trout. Numbers of cutthroat in the Yellowstone Lake ecosystem have dropped to less than five percent of the historic population. 25 years ago, spawning returns in the Clear Creek tributary were 50,000 fish per year. Current returns in the same tributary are less than 500 fish.
Has this whole thing become just a little overly serious? It’s hard to imagine, but I continue seeing far too many anglers on the river who can barely be distracted to acknowledge a fellow angler, focused on the serious task at hand, or treating others like competition. Those who give the look of suspicion, as if you’re thieving something from them as you walk past on the bank. Too much elitism. Too much internal divisiveness. Too many petty Internet chat board battles. Too many people who have confused gear with what’s really important. Too many who’ve become focused on the importance of “industry” over actual fishing. Too many bitter guides bitching about their source of income (otherwise known as clients). Worse, too many guides who think they’re hot shit, instead of a humble steward of the river. And with increasing frequency, marketing that depicts stern, brow-knit men going about the very serious business of fishing (apparently, that is what it has become for them). Don’t even get me started on your average steelheader.
The Dood comes into the shop asking if we "have any emerging ant patterns." When the attempt is to made to explain why such a thing doesn't exist, he swears up and down that he was just fishing on a lake and watching ants "emerge" out of the water.
The Dood asks if we'll give him a discount on 6 flies, and then 30 seconds later brings up the new Orvis Helios rod he just bought.
For those sad souls who can't get the angling monkey off their backs and have chosen to live well above the seasonal freezing line, winter can easily slide into a cornucopia spilling over with bountiful excuses. Much like the traveling charlatan preacher for whom the mind is willing but the flesh is weak - we want to fish, but all that whiteness, especially when it's traveling horizontally past the window, is a daunting thing.