Ever See a White Perch on Instagram?

I was reading recently a blog posted by a fly shop owner out west who was, well, I think trying to make us all feel better about ourselves.  He said “Don’t feel bad if your Instagram feed is filled with 26” brown trout, sweeping vistas from Patagonia estancias or flawlessly tied flies.  Those represent someone’s fish and trip of a lifetime and flies that are more art than lure.” I like that, and yes, it made me feel better.

It is no ground shaking revelation that social media only produces an opaque veneer of reality.  A veneer made of photo filters, exaggerated…um…fish size and prop sets meant to rack up likes and fire emojis.  The only time you see anything close to “real” on social media it’s accompanied by the disclaimer #nofilter or infused with intentional irony meant to illicit humor for the glam portrayal of the mundane.

To be fair, I love seeing those record fish, gorgeous exotic locations and beautiful flies, it inspires me, but it also makes me feel like that a 10” brookie is just that, an ordinary fish and nothing our influencer culture will care about.  We are learning to only value and appreciate the extraordinary, and for fly fishers those moments are not every day (month, year?) occurrences.  I have had days catching nothing but 6” river chubs in Maine (delicious to eat), a few 12” mountain whitefish in Montana (also delicious to eat), or ever worse, nothing at all (insert skunk emoji- not so delicious to eat and even harder to swallow).  Even an advanced fly fisher can go days without catching a fish.  If that is new news, maybe reread that line a few times over.

Do you know theyself?  Is that going to be a deal breaker?  What do you want to get out of your time on the water?  If it’s catching more fish and upping your game, then you need to sign up pronto for our Introduction to Fly Fishing Class.  If you have the fishy skills but struggle with the concept of having fishless days, you should learn to check your ego at the boat ramp and be honest about your expectations, that or go fill a Folgers can with night crawlers and sharpen those treble hooks because if you are trying to produce Instagram worthy content every time you’ll need to resort to other methods. #snagemwhiletheyrehott.

Fly Fishing in Northern Maine is a mixed bag of fish, waterways and success.  Last September I was guiding our Advanced Fly Fishing Course on the West Branch of the Penobscot, a river so low at the time the Cribworks below Telos Bridge looked at least attemptable in an open bowed canoe.  My clients fished the tail out of a beautiful and productive run (which did produce some social media- worthy salmon) while we practiced our single- handed spey casts and kept an ear out for the release horn at Rip dam signaling a major pulse of water.  After we were warmed by a fresh pot of riverside coffee, I changed both client’s flies (with some trepidation on their end to fishing a double nymph rig) and they moved back to the landlocked salmon end of the pool.  To keep busy and to stay one step ahead of my clients, I tied a small white and grizzly woolly bugger on my 6 wt. and fished the big circulating eddy upstream of my clients.  The large eddy was fairly void of salmonids as expected but I pulled out white perch after white perch until it became a joke for the weekend that the only fish this Master Maine Guide could catch were white perch.  I’ll take it.

Now, would anyone drive the 13+ miles of wash boarded, dusty and logging truck filled Golden Road to catch those little guys or would I get any fire emogis up in my mentions for a 10” perch?  Probs not, but…they were a ton of fun to catch on a streamer, kept me from pestering my clients with technique tweaks and advice for 10 minutes and provided a little laughter on a wet and cold day on the water.

Luckily If you live in or visit the great state of Maine, those ‘gram-worthy fish are out there, as are the stunning locations and if you find the right fly tyers, so are the gorgeous handmade works of art meant to deceive a fish with a brain the size of a Ticonderoga #2 pencil eraser.



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