Clint Eastwood’s Advice on Fly Fishing and Life

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George Liset photo



    February had its claws on the river. The banks were covered in snow and the edges of the river had ribbons of ice lining both sides, yet it was an improvement over last week when the temperature was a minus 27 with the wind chill. Today was a mild 39 degrees with hardly any wind. I have decided that I won’t fish if the temps are under freezing, because after all, as Clint Eastwood said , “A man has to know his limitations.”

      If I have learned anything while fly fishing it is that one does have to know their limitations. It’s easy to get into trouble when you forget. When I first started fly fishing I thought that the more flies you lost meant that you were not a good fly fisher. I would go to any lengths to save a fly. I have filled my waders a few times to save one. All for a dollar. Fortunately I realized that even good fly fishers lose flies. That’s why even John Gierach brings a vise and tying materials when he goes on extended trips.

    Today I decided to start nymphing up the river and then, if I had enough time, I would throw a streamer on the way back. I opened my fly box and stared vacantly into it. It was a case of paralysis through analysis. Then I heard Clint’s voice, “Let’s not go ruin it by thinking too much.”

So I then tied on a bead head egg pattern with a size 18 Prince nymph dropper. I started working my way up the river. I had on my wading boots with the cleats on the bottom that gave me good traction. I have had some of my best days on this river. The spring, summer and fall have been good to me. Winter fishing is still a puzzle to me.

     Then a small breeze came up and I could hear Clint’s voice, “Do you feel lucky, Punk?” Clint was right, winter fishing is more about luck than skill. During the winter you pretty much have to put the fly right on the trout’s nose.

 The trout are pretty much just sitting on the bottom waiting for the food to come to them. Trout aren’t as active which means you have to work the river thoroughly. I continued up the river. A few times I felt like I got a bite but would come up with a stick or a piece of vegetation.

    I then switched over to a streamer and began my trip back down river. I was getting discouraged that nothing was biting when I happened to look up and saw the outline of Clint’s face on a crag on the cliff. I could hear Clint whisper, “If you want a guarantee, buy a toaster.” The brilliance and simplicity in that statement caught me off guard. Again, Clint was right. There are no guarantees on the river.

      The Wooly Bugger I had tied on didn’t seem to move any fish. I ran into another young man who was working a section of the river as I was heading back to the truck. He wasn’t having any more luck than I did. I told him what I had fished for flies and he was pretty much on the same page. I took off my waders, sat in my truck and began rubbing my sore knees. As I turned my radio on I could hear Clint chuckle as he said, “Aging can be fun if you lay back and enjoy it.”

I’m trying Clint, I’m trying.

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