It has been raining lightly all morning and now a 6 mph wind begins to blow dropping the chill factor to somewhere near 30 degrees. We are geared up for weather with rain jackets and hats but still the cold seeps in. Honestly, we probably would have quite hours ago but "K" is on a serious mission and refuses to return to the campfire without completing said mission.
Let me explain. You see, lately we have been looking back over our angling careers as fly fishers and taking stock. We have been pouring over old photographs and reliving experiences that we have had and the fish that came with those experiences. It has been fun and made one thing crystal clear:
We love catching new species, AND, we love keeping track.
The whole concept of the "Anglers Life List" is not new. In fact most fishers have a mental running tally of all the fish they have ever caught. But a life list is more than a tally of previous fish caught. It is also a list of species yet to come.
Life Lists help us explore and learn. We have found that by seeking out new species to hunt down we have discovered fish even in our own area that we didn't even know existed. It has been really fun to spend time around a set of maps and a computer with Google loaded and ready looking for new species and then researching how and where to find them and then how best to fly fish for them.
Having a up-to-date life list also creates a sense of pride in accomplishment that can be enjoyed long after the actually experience. The new species that you catch now will be there on the list to relive 20 years from now and the more difficult the endeavor, the more rewarding the check mark on the list.
Keeping track of your catches can be a fun and creative process too. You can keep it old school with a hand written journal and actual photographs or try the digital era's solution by using a web-based or app-based system like we do. Currently we use Fishidy which integrated nicely with our digital images and has a fun community of anglers that all seem pretty supportive of each others life lists.
A list can also keep you motivated. You actually have to go for it to grow. Some trips may simply be out the back door. But others will take you half way around the world. Seeking out new species keeps you exploring and the experience fresh.
That brings us back to why we are freezing our fingers off on a small Lake only about 60 miles from Canada in Late October. "K" really wanted a new species on her card. She had already caught a really nice Rainbow Trout but that's not why we had come and she wasn't giving up. Cast after cast was made interrupted by short hand rubbing sessions and pained looks back at me on the oars. The wind picked up even more and the temp dropped a couple more degrees. I was starting to get really uncomfortable and we were seriously contemplating pushing for quitting....when it happened. The fish we were after bent the rod and within a few seconds it was all over. Not a big fish. Not a heroic fight. Not a record catch. But a new species on the "Life List" of "K". One that had tested her metal in rough weather and because of that will always be memorable.
We challenge you to take a look at your life list. What is on there so far? What's missing? Go out and get it!
See you on the water!
P.S. Don't forget to catch and release!