Why I Fish: The Stories We Tell

by Jake McGlothlin on May 29, 2013

in Why I Fish

Fishermen have had a long history of story telling.  It comes with the territory, and is an essential part of the game without which our sport wouldn’t be so deep and rich.  The vast majority of fishing stories are complete and total bullshit, but they are still pretty fun to listen to.

When I say fishing story, I don’t mean the jackass that goes around telling everybody that he caught four 22-inch fish in a half hour up the Gallatin Canyon and will argue to the death his version of events.  There is a difference between weaving a story and telling a straight up lie.  If every day you have on the water is freaking awesome, filled with nothing but big fish and lots of them, no one will believe you.  And if you have to be an obstreperous ass to defend your story, then you didn’t tell it very well.

The best stories are the ones involving lots of hand motions, excited voices, and a touch of humility.  Take a story I heard from Ryan at work yesterday.  He has been on a week and a half vacation, and spent almost all of it on the water.  He had the pictures to back up the claims of big fish, but the culmination was the tale of a 12-pounder that they fought for 20 minutes and could never land.

I doubt that the fish really was a 30 inch, 12 pound trout.  But the way he told the story made me want to believe it really was.


That’s the real difference in my mind between good fishing stories and bad ones.  The good ones make you really want to believe they are true, even if you know they probably are not.  The bad ones make you want to roll your eyes and start an argument with whoever is telling them.  Like the idiot new guy at work who just moved here and swears up and down he caught six grayling in a row from Ennis Lake…

Story telling is an art in our world of fly fishing.  It’s a rich part of the culture that should be cherished.  Find yourself a couple good story tellers in your circle, give them a couple beers, and sit back and soak it all up.