It’s good to be local. Not just in this area, but anywhere. Locals know the best places to eat, the most scenic backroads, who has the cheapest gas in town, and the best fishing spots in the area.
Local’s also have the power to exercise what I call “Local’s Prerogative”.
Local’s Prerogative is the ability to go out to the local river/ski hill/hiking destination whatever, poke around for a little bit, and then leave if the fishing/skiing/hiking isn’t too good and not feel guilty about it. Or, you could go out there and fish for an hour, feel satisfied, and head back to town.
Yesterday is a perfect example of this. I rose at 4am, got some stuff done and then felt like fishing. I was originally going to fish the upper Gallatin, but it’s all blown out. Then I figured I’d head over to West and get some breakfast. Once I got there, I figured, ah, what the hell, I’ll go see how the park looks.
I kinda moseyed through the park, stopped a couple times to look at the Madison, and of course had to stop on Riverside Drive to take a leak. (Family tradition). The Firehole didn’t look too bad at all, and I wanted to try out some new water.
So I leisurely geared up, basking in the tourist free glory of early morning. One of the guys at work won’t stop talking about Fountain Flats, so I headed upriver from the parking lot. The sun was bright and nary a cloud was to be seen, so I guessed the hatch would be a bit slow today.
After about a mile hike with only seeing one fish (and of course it would be the bruiser I spooked from under a bank), I was tired. Here is the first element of Local’s Prerogative – I am on the banks of the Firehole on a beautiful morning and want to take a nap. Had I traveled here from some distant place, you can bet your ass I would have kept my line in the water all day long.
Of course, the very moment I pulled all my gear off and sat down I heard a splashy rise. Jumping to my feet, I could see them all the way across the river, feeding along the bank. Small mayflies (I’m asuming BWOs given the olive bodies) and larger Miller Caddis where in the air.
This led to two frenzied hours of adding tippets, fly changes, delicate drifts and fish. Not as many fish as last week, but I brought a good half dozen to hand and had another dozen or so jump the fly. Most of those were about as long as my reel is wide. However, I did catch the biggest fish I’ve ever gotten on that river. He was a solid 18” brown with a big pot belly and brilliant colors.
The fish up here seemed to be larger as a rule, looking longer and fatter than the ones I’ve seen down lower on the river. I rolled a couple of big ones, two of which surprised me so much I missed the hookset, forcing forth a fusillade of profanity that I don’t think the family downstream appreciated. One trout in particular was consistently feeding along the bank for a solid hour, refusing everything I threw at him. Four flies and an extra two feet of tippet later, I got the bastard. Turns out he was a brookie. Surprised the hell out of me, I didn’t even know brook trout were in here.
All in all, the day wore on, the hatch slowed down and the river got crowded. One dude snuck up behind me, moving closer and closer to where I was catching fish every time I turned around. He, needless to say, wasn’t catching much. By the way dude, waders work better when you actually get in the water.
After 20 minutes with no rises I felt satisfied. Sure, I controlled a great bend of the river. I could have stayed there all day long and waited. Had I been passing through I bet I would have. But, with the rule of Local’s Prerogative, I didn’t feel the need.
So I fished for three hours and headed back, without a twinge of guilt or remorse for not staying and fishing all day. Had the river been too crowded or too dirty, I wouldn’t have even bothered to string a rod.
Obviously, I’m using Yellowstone Park as an example here, as it is my local water. But it doesn’t matter where you are or what your local water is. Doesn’t matter if it’s famous, big, small, freshwater, saltwater, whatever. The principle is the same. You can fish however long or short a time you want to, leave when you want, or hell, not even fish at all.
It’s good being local, wherever local might be.