Where the pursuit takes you

So I took a week off from salmon fishing, mountain climbing and deer scouting to go to… California?
Yeah, seriously. A couple buddies of mine kept texting me pictures of beautiful mountain streams that meander back and forth through grassy meadows that smell like wild onion. They were catching beautiful little brook, rainbow, brown and golden trout on 1-weight fly rods and as a dude who loves fly fishing, it was too hard to resist.
It’s not that I tire of mooching for king salmon, or swinging flies for silvers or that I prefer brook trout that can’t fill a purple pack of bait as well as herring. You can’t compare. A king salmon will probably get more likes in my Instagram, but reading thin water and making a cast to a run that’s only three feet long and a foot deep is challenging and fun. Fishing isn’t all about weight and size. It’s about the process. Getting In-N-Out Burger one last time before next spring or summer wasn’t a bad perk either.
So I went. I fished five rivers in four days and caught the Sierra Grand Slam, the rainbow, brown, brook and elusive golden trout all in the same day. It was awesome.
The premise of a Grand Slam is a little odd. It’s evidence that the human race has reached a point of ease where we can make specific rules in our providing. We can hunt and feel completely satisfied and successful without providing a tangible, edible result to fight off natural selection. It’s just the feeding of our soul to be recalled in a story with pictures. And I’m cool with that.
Things like slams come mostly down to money or information. Sometimes enough money can buy you the information you need to get it done and become part of the elite-ish group of people who have done something that matters to a population probably smaller than the people who have actually accomplished it.
Get a cutthroat, rainbow and Dolly Varden in an hour ­— or all five species of Pacific salmon — make yourself a t-shirt, wear it to the grocery store and no one will really care.
But it’s not about the bragging rights. It’s about that pursuit and where it takes you. It’s about going out and finding something that’s rare and beautiful and testing your skill against it. It’s about how you feel accomplishing it, rather than what other people think about you doing it. It’s about recreation replacing medication.
At one point I was standing on a rock with my left foot against a rock at waist level, backhand casting upriver at a rising brown trout. It was sweet. I screwed it up a few times, but it’s the variety that fishing provides that makes it so great and never boring.
Anyway, I got the four fish in a few hours and reconnected with my California friends and don’t feel like I missed anything.
And yes, I went to In-N-Out.

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