I’ve managed to accumulate a lot of fishing equipment over the course of my life. My basement is filled with fly rods and conventional rods hung and crisscrossed in a way that makes sense in my head. Tackle boxes filled with baits and bags of soft plastics that desperately need to be reorganized are stuffed into every cranny, and there’s still a massive pile of reels that I swore I would go through and “fix” before the end of this winter.
I say all this to say that I’ve made my fishing assortment extremely complex. I’ve got rods specifically for dry flies, jerk baits, and everything in between, along with crankbaits divided up by their wobble, sitting next to around 6 boxes of nymphs organized by color and size.
Digging through all of this mess, I managed to find some of my grandfather’s old fishing lures stuffed inside an old green canvas creel. I tell ya’, it brought back a lot of nostalgic memories of us fishing together when it seemed like fishing was so much simpler than it is today. Random Rooster Tails, a couple of original floater Rapalas, and an old foam box of very simple fly patterns.
Staring at the thousands of baits and flies that I have accumulated over my lifetime, I’ve often wondered, “When did fishing get so complicated?”
Looking back through these old lures brought back some wonderful memories of my younger, more imaginative self. Envisioning in my mind the fish that may or may not hit my fly or lure in the river, and allowing my thoughts to drift with the current was all that was needed. It brought back smells of coffee, beechnut wintergreen, and being driven around in my grandpa’s old trucks. Memories of my fathers history lessons as we “loafed” around random back roads, which inevitably would end at a stream that I had to wet a line in. Those images are still as warm and vivid in my mind as if they were yesterday. In addition, those experiences gave me a better appreciation for my home here in the mountains, and also added deeply to my now full time job as a professional guide.
It makes me wonder if, despite all our advances in the fishing world, we haven’t strayed too far off from what fishing should be about, and the life lessons that are encountered and pondered on a lazy mountain summer afternoon. Maybe, we should just keep it simple.
Ethan Hollifield is a member of a conservation organization called 2% For Conservation and a guide for Southern Appalachian Anglers