Think Like a Fly Fisher, Report Like a Copywriter (or Even a Politician)

by Mark McGlothlin on March 5, 2013

in Local's Prerogative

TrustMECWAt least for those of us living in the central and northern Rockies, early March brings tangible evidence Winter’s icy grip is slipping away, even if just for a day or two at a time.

Add midge clusters, intermittent sun and faithful hope for the season’s first Blue Wings into the mix and before you know it, glowing reports are popping up all over the place about how freaking awesome the early season fishing is.

The fly fishing print media and perhaps even more the blogosphere (fflogosphere) clearly contribute to some rivers, lakes, ponds and creeks being overloved; is overzealous reporting at the core?

Fair be it from me to say anyone is writing these types of posts and reports incorrectly; we’d just like to offer several suggestions on how to do it the right way.

On first glance, you might be tempted to follow the models put forth by some notables in the business, say Ian and Charity at R&R or Mark and John at Headhunters. You might argue these guys and gals call the shots pretty honestly, reporting yings and yangs in the weather, details about hatches, flies and what’s working on what waters under their purview.

While their brand of honest reporting from a shop or guide is obviously expected, highly valued and sadly somewhat rare, it can have serious drawbacks – bustling shops, full parking lots, busy guide bookings and brisk sales.

As vitally useful as that sort of information is, mentors and fishing colleagues have convinced us that over-detailing reporting a great day’s fishing may in fact rob other fishers of the sheer joy obtained when experimenting / guessing / figuring it out for themselves.

All that said, here are several guidelines for writing up that great day of fishing you just had…

Geography. Play on Americans’ astounding lack of geographical knowledge. Use subtle geographical hints (ie, southwestern Montana) vs. highway milemarkers in describing access. Play to regional biases, such as Texans insisting the world ends at the northern Colorado border. Avoid geotagging and marked river maps at all costs.

Timing. ‘You should have been here yesterday or last week’ are preferred; use of ‘you should have been here this morning’ is acceptable in a pinch.

Weather. Should be reported as being generally the most miserable conditions logically acceptable for time of year and location. Better yet, name every thunderstorm that rolls by this season, swear it’s the storm of the century and wildly exaggerate impacts on the fishery. Correlates strongly with Geography, American ignorance, above.

Hatches and bugs. The art here is to provide some information, perhaps seemingly even honest information, coupled with overt misdirection. You must think and write like a politician; paint a grandiose vision of the hope that your fly recommendations bring.

We used (size)(color)(wet or dry) flies as in we used big yellow floating flies. Creative types do well here and the sky is the limit. Images of flies must be from a sufficient distance or blurred to obscure critical detail. Better yet, provide images of the wrong fly.

The art of misdirection. Write about breakfast, how pretty the bankside flowers were, the amazing landscape / clouds / vistas / big blue sky. Wax eloquently about your glass or bamboo rod, your zip front waders or your new boots. Additional points for references to fly fishing and other great literature, past and present.

In extreme cases it may be necessary to generate a report to draw anglers attention to another worthy fishery, such as the S. Platte, the upper Colorado or even the Guadalupe. Write like a travel writer here and leave nothing to the imagination.

I hear Arkansas is fishing very well right now.