A Fishless Story

A Fishless Story – By Jessica Van Ierland.

The pursuit used to be competitive.

Any angler is lying if they said they didn’t roll their eyes at another’s success, especially if it was earned in a slightly different way than they choose to fish. What I am trying to say here is, fishing is a sport and sports are competitive.

My initial goal fishing was: head to any river, lake or sea and be able to have enough knowledge to hook into a fish every time and tell you all about it. I was getting very close to this goal with my centerpin, skunk days were next to none in little to no time at all. (even easy for a mascara wearing girl like myself to figure out). Rushing to the river and hastily casting, skipping breakfast in a feverish pursuit. That is what I did.

It wasn’t long before I realised I felt I was competing with others. I was trying to prove myself to my fellow fisher community. Maybe because I am a woman? Maybe because that’s what people want to see? Every scroll online I was scoping to see who caught something after a day on the water, thoughts of “Oh, I should have fished further North, damn it.” “Oh, I should have fished south today, damnit.” I just wished I was part of some cool dudes crew, hiking into “their” spots with them, chasing whiskey with beer and tailing 5 steelies in canyon holes.

No. Not anymore.

I don’t know what changed, life changed, there was a giant shift in my whole world. A lot of unwanted life experience was thrown at me in a short amount of time and I had to grow into who I have become. Along with personal changes it would make sense that my whole outlook on fishing and how I fish has changed. That’s the beauty of fishing. You can fish any way you like as long as it is with ethics.

So… I picked up my fly rod a few years ago and all other setups are now collecting dust. During this development with my fly rod I catch a lot less fish but I enjoy fishing way more. Weird concept? My heart races and my legs turn to jello again once I finally hook into one mainly because I know I worked hard at my cast, the fly I tied, the presentation, the take and all the odds against me. Especially in the winter.

No rush…

There is no rushing in fly fishing. Each cast takes the same amount of time, try speeding it up or using muscle and your line just does a silly pile on the water, telling you…slow down. Don’t force anything. Breathe. I have heard it’s a man’s sport? (Okay then)…I feel beautiful casting my fly rod. Few instances in our society do we actually slow down and breathe.

There is no haste in fly fishing. There is no competition for me anymore not even with myself. I strive now, I strive to be better in challenging situations. Freedom! I don’t see a fishless day as a fail anymore. I see a fishless day as a really good day, better than most days in my life. Perspective would be: considering all the busy, all the hustle, stress or pain…You place yourself on the river for a day, even a fishless day and it beats most days in my everyday life.

No big deal

Fishless day stories are full of eagles, wildlife, meditation and peace. Fishless days are full of laughter and falling on my ass, fishless days are full of new sights, fishless days usually mean I have walked a lot more, seen a lot more and kept my body in shape.

So, a more meditative peaceful and people free approach to fishing is where I find myself today. I devote myself to this lifestyle and I am better for it. The rare times when I do win big I (sometimes) keep memories and images to myself because I want to strive for me and nobody else. I am not sorry that I won’t ever prove myself. Maybe next time I pick up a map and pack the truck I will get the timing and strategy right and if not….

All is beautiful.

Jessica Van Ierland

Hook and Vice Ambassador, fly fisherman and lover of the natural world. Jessica is a Vancouver Island girl. She was raised to play outside and continues to live that way to this day. Jessica has yet to run out of areas, streams, trails, bridges and new views to discover. Her favourite Hook And Vice hat is the Traditional Cap – Bear.

Follow Jessica on Instagram at: https://www.instagram.com/islandgirlfishing/

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