Sportmanship on the Stream

by Fly Fisherman

Now may I cover an ingredient that is commendable in many activities but in trout fishing it becomes a glaring negative. That is the quality of competitiveness. If you are obsessed with it, shed it by all means while you’re fishing and it isn’t so difficult if you want to. Hurrying to be first in line, hurrying for fear someone else might pass or precede you, hurrying to be first at the “Log Jam Pool” where you saw the big square tail yesterday—you are outwitting yourself and deliberately passing up really major opportunities to add to your fishing skill which in turn means added pleasure. You have no opportunity to observe any of the cardinal rules to make of yourself a better fisherman.

Working your hardest to catch the most trout or the largest trout, so that you can strut in camp that evening, not only is lacking in sportsmanship, but it doesn’t endear you one particle more to your fishing pals—it merely increases the distaste they’re building up for you. Believe me when I tell you that following the six rules of a good fisherman will not only result in greater success on the stream but it will salve that ulcer of pressing competitiveness and give you returns in pleasurable fishing that you didn’t believe were in the sport.

If a pursuit is too easy we get little kick from it. This truism is applicable to fishing, in particular. If you can take a single fish where the victory is gained under circumstances that are tough—where the obstacles, or conditions, present a real problem—where you are certain that most anglers wouldn’t have attempted the objective, then you acquire a strong degree of gratification that can be gained no other way. The desire or urge to perform a formidable, ticklish task, in your fishing, as a challenge to yourself just because it is that kind of a handicap is an authentic sign of sportsmanship.

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