Many times when you go fishing you hope to catch certain fish. Then there are things you expect to do. The hopes and expectations can kind of ruin your day if you're not careful. I've been trying to catch a Roanoke Bass for probably close to 2yrs now. I've hit the Eno maybe 20 times and not even hooked and lost one. Yesterday I thought the stars might have aligned and it was going to be my day. My mother came over and brought some stuff from when I lived in San Diego. There were brand new poppers still in the package. I looked them over and was kind of giddy. These flies are perfect for where I was going to fish. While I looked at the back I noticed where they were made. What are the odds that I would buy some flies in San Diego then move across country to less than 30 miles from where they are distributed? I felt this had to be a sign. A Roanoke Bass would be in hand by the end of the day tomorrow.
The next morning I met up with two other TFF members I hadn't fished with before. Everyone was on time and we quickly shared greetings and past experiences then jumped on the water. I was given a lead by a fellow fisherman of a section of river that was supposed to be loaded with Roanokes. The trail and water was new to me. I started working rocks and under water ledges. I hooked up quickly and as the fish came to the surface I saw the orange that signifies a redbreast sunfish. I expected to catch these. There was a section with a nice rock that looked perfect for casting. To the right was a submerged log. On my second cast I hooked up with a nice large mouth. I don't catch too many of those on the Eno although they are prevalent. I kept working the water catching sunfish after sunfish.
Eventually I reached the point in the day where it was starting to get warm and the fish activity was dying down. My time to catch a Roanoke was closing. Every time I hooked a fish and saw the orange belly of a sunfish I kind had an "aaaaaaaaaaaaw" feeling. This was a bad sign, fishing shouldn't get so hectic and stressful that now you're upset because you are catching fish. But that's how it was getting. I started to give up hope that a Roanoke was in my future. I found a hole where I saw another fish I hadn't seen on the Eno, a longnose Gar. Maybe this would be my first gar on the fly. I saw the fish from a bank over looking the water. I decided to back track about a quarter mile and sneak up on the fish from a spill way downstream. As I worked up to the main pool it was hard to see where exactly the fish was at. I started to just blindly cast here and there where I saw bubbles. It was hard to tell if the bubbles were from a gar or a turtle. I got impatient and started looking for other targets. I had some ferocious splashes on my fly near some rip rap but nothing would stick. Time for the walk back. I ran into one of the other fisherman. I didn't want to really know but I asked anyway. "You catch any Roanokes?" The guy says yeah, one. WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!? Damnit! "On what?" I asked. On a frog pattern popper he says. I was fishing one of those practically all morning.
So now I fished again with a frog pattern working all the spots I hadn't and even some I had fished earlier. More and more sunfish. UGH! Then I just started to hike back and get mad. I tried finding a short cut up from the river to the main trail. The bank was steep and covered with dead leaves. Hmm I wonder if a lot of these are poison ivy? Then I started to slip and fell on my butt and slid halfway down the hill. I figured maybe that wasn't the best way to go and started to just look for the main trail an easier way. After walking maybe half a mile I realized when I fell I dropped my pliers. Dang it!
Then I started to get really negative. This was a waste of gas, I'm probably sunburnt to hell, I could have spent this time with my family, sunfish suck. Then my conscious kicked back. SUNFISH SUCK? What are you saying? Get a grip man. That's when I realized the whole day was built too much on hope and expectation. It's so much more fun to fish without any expectations. Sure you can hope on catching a huge fish or a certain kind of fish but don't expect too. That pressure turns the whole fishing experience into something different. More like work than a recreational activity or a therapeutic experience.