Editor’s Observe: Deer camp, fish camp, the taking pictures vary, or the gun store—irrespective of the place hunters and anglers get collectively, they’ll discover one thing to disagree on. And why not? There’s nothing like an excellent argument to get your blood pumping. So, to that finish, day-after-day this week we’ll be posting tales designed to stir issues up round searching and fishing’s most urgent debates. And for selection’s sake, we’ll make some critters and cartridges go head-to-head, too. Under, F&S fishing editor and japanese angler Joe Cermele and his western buddy, information and author Miles Nolte, hash it out, with no holds barred.

The Case for the East

Joe Cermele with massive brown trout, taken from an unnamed japanese river. Joe Cermele

I couldn’t, in good conscience, make the declare that Japanese fly fishermen are higher at catching trout than Western fly anglers. While you actually break it down, you possibly can both current a nymph, dry, or streamer nicely sufficient for a fish to take it or you possibly can’t. What I can declare, although, is that anybody from the West that claims it took years to hone these abilities is filled with sh*t.

The hill I’m prepared to die on is that if Montana, Colorado, Idaho, or Wyoming is your yard, you might have it simple. Yeah, we East Coast boys may not beat you in a distance casting competitors and definitely not in a rowing competitors, however give us a state of affairs the place the fishing is hard, when it forces you to essentially take into consideration your strategy, and we’ll dominate. Why? As a result of we’re not spoiled.

If there’s a piss trickle working behind a gasoline station in Western Montana, it holds wild trout. Grocery procuring in Western Colorado? Load your luggage into the Subaru and go catch a pleasant wild rainbow in that stream flowing down the highway from the Complete Meals. As for the typical stream behind the Cease & Save the place I stay in Pennsylvania? Chubs and tires. That’s what I’ve received. Certain, there are well-known japanese rivers just like the Delaware, Battenkill, Penns Creek, and Allegheny, all identified for giant, wild browns, however in comparison with the West, there are only a few potatoes between these prime cuts of meat. The Madison and Inexperienced and Clark Fork are all tremendous crowded today, I get it, however I don’t know a single Western angler who doesn’t have a bunch of less-pressured B and C rivers and streams to fish once we East Coast vacationers are on the market clogging up the primary arteries. Inside just some counties and a pair hours drive in Montana alone, you’ve received as a lot high quality wild trout water as all of the Northeast states mixed.

Within the East, if it’s massive, wild “butter” you crave, you’re both duking it out with everybody else from Philly, New York, or Boston on a vacation spot river otherwise you’re preventing with the locals on less-famous (and lesser) waters. In any other case, you’re settling for stocked trout or tiny wild brookies. The previous, whereas culturally vital, don’t actually matter on this debate, and whereas the brookies are neat and all, most individuals don’t need to hike to distant locations to catch them. Apart from, flinging 6-inch trout out of the water while you set the hook is not any comfort prize for a 20-inch wild brown sipping a caddis. If, that’s, you’re even fortunate sufficient to seek out one sipping in any respect.

Wild Japanese trout are extra cautious and selective than Western fish. A lot of that, I consider, is a product of stress. Nonetheless, it’s additionally science. Rising up fishing the rivers of Northeastern Pennsylvania, rising fish have been a luxurious. Not solely was it tougher to depend on hatches, however even after they have been occurring, it didn’t imply the fish would tune in. So that you you had the discover ways to nymph or get scratched. The idea of throwing dry flies blind doesn’t apply the identical right here because it does within the West, as a result of until you get actually fortunate, you possibly can assume if there are zero fish rising, you’re not prone to change one’s thoughts.

The primary time I ever fished Montana, I used to be shocked. Our information tied on a giant foam Stimulator for 18-year-old me. “There ya, go, bud,” he stated. “Get after it.” After what?, I assumed. I did’t see something rising. Wherever I laid that fly within the Gallatin, a fats rainbow or cutthroat would come up and slurp it. A few of these drifts have been horrible, too, and so they nonetheless took it. All these years later and after many extra journeys out West, I perceive that it’s not at all times that simple, however it is that simple method, far more typically within the West, and the extra alternative you must get flies in entrance of prepared fish, the sooner you discover ways to catch them—and the much less you must earn it, dare I say.

I take into consideration that first journey out West, and all of the others the place hopper patterns received blasted left and proper, and the instances there once I barely modified fly patterns all day. Then I examine that to fishing my beloved Delaware River in New York, one of many East’s greatest, the place I might need to vary patterns 5 time on one fish. I may by no means depend the variety of days I’ve had on the Delaware the place we get one or two possibilities at a rising fish in a full day’s float. After which it’s, Don’t mess up as a result of this may very well be your solely shot. Solid now? No. No, anticipate him to come back up once more. Now? No, make certain he’s not transferring inside the lane. Oh god, the stress!

I’ve by no means felt that stress on a Western river. Possibly it’s as a result of I do know with so many extra trout per sq. mile, I’m prone to transfer extra fish or get extra photographs at sippers. Possibly it’s as a result of even when I whiff the browns, I’ll at the very least smack 25 cutties. However it doesn’t matter what the river throws at me within the West I’m not frightened about it as a result of I minimize my tooth on East Coast trout, dammit, at not a one in every of them was fooled by a dry fly so massive it may double as a shower toy (besides when throwing mouse flies at midnight, which we’re higher at, too).  

My superb good friend and veteran Montana information, Miles Nolte, is now going to seize the mic and attempt to poke holes in all the things I stated, however I would like you to think about one thing earlier than studying on: He now lives in New Zealand. Did he actually transfer his whole household there as a result of his spouse received an unimaginable job supply, and it’s a once-in-a-lifetime alternative to stay in a beautiful nation and expertise its lovely individuals and tradition? Or had fishing in Montana gotten really easy he wanted to problem himself on essentially the most technical trout streams on the earth? I’ve my opinion, however I’ll allow you to formulate your individual.

The Case for the West

photo of western angler with a big brown trout
Miles Nolte with a giant brown of his personal, however this one taken from a western stream. Miles Nolte

If I needed to describe East Coast fly anglers in a phrase, that phrase could be INSUFFERABLE. I do know we’re imagined to be debating which anglers are higher, East or West, and that most individuals will interpret angling prowess because the crux of this debate, however right here’s the factor: I don’t select my fishing buddies primarily based on who can throw the tightest loop, execute essentially the most difficult tuck forged, or put an Adams right into a teacup at 70 toes. My favourite anglers are those with whom I take pleasure in spending 12 straight hours. I’ve some shut fishing buds on the precise coast, Joe included, however on the entire you all are annoying to fish with. You could be nice individuals, however you over estimate each the greenery of the trout on the opposite facet of the plains, and your individual talent.

Joe simply made that time for me. Skilled Western trout anglers have been both cringing or shaking their heads in disbelief by way of Joe’s whole diatribe, particularly the guides. The one proof Joe offered that Western trout fishing is simpler than Japanese appears to be primarily based on someday of fishing. Besides, the day he describes on the Gallatin is extra an aberration than actual life. I fished and guided that space for 20 years, together with the Gallatin, and guess what? I by no means as soon as skilled what Joe’s describing. Not one single time.

I’m not calling Joe a liar. I consider him, however what he’s doing there—reinforcing the parable that popping out West means coming into a Shangri-La of large trout that rise to each forged—that’s a giant a part of the explanation East Coast fly anglers are so unbearable. All of them present up with unrealistic expectations, and when these expectations crash towards the rocks of actuality, guess who they blame? Everyone however themselves. Normally they blame the guides. Even when they didn’t rent guides, they nonetheless blame the guides. Or the locals. Or the store child who informed them the place to go. They blame anybody and everybody they will consider, however it by no means even happens to them that possibly the explanation they’re not catching sh*t is that the fishing simply isn’t superb that week, or they’re not expert sufficient to get it accomplished. They’ve caught a fish on the Delaware (or wherever), so any failure they expertise chasing Western trout can’t presumably be their very own fault. They’re Japanese fly anglers; these silly Western trout ought to all simply bow to their greatness.

We Westerners can play the small pattern measurement recreation too, you recognize. I’ve fished the Delaware, twice. Each single time I went there, I discovered and caught rising trout. How in regards to the Battenkill? I fished it (for 2 hours) and caught each single trout I noticed—all on dries. If I divide the variety of fish caught on dry flies by the variety of hours fished on East Coast rivers, and examine that to the identical determine from many years of fishing in Montana, I may mathematically show that the dry fly fishing is way superior in New York State.

However I’m not going to do this, as a result of that might be silly.

The issue stems from the West’s mythology (see above). An excellent day or two of fishing in Montana, or Colorado, or Wyoming, will affirm a visiting Easterner’s speculation. Whereas, if I’ve a couple of nice days of massive fish sipping mayflies on the East Coast, I don’t assume I’ve discovered trout heaven, as a result of I don’t have a preconceived notion to validate.

Throughout my a few years of guiding out West, individuals generally requested in regards to the worst shoppers. (Manhattan attorneys, palms down.) If pressured to generalize, I’d say individuals from the dense cluster of humanity from Washington D.C. to Boston tended to provide me my most difficult days on the water. I’m positive most of them are completely good individuals, however the mixed weight of their expectations and egos typically threatened to capsize the boat. While you present up anticipating 20-inch fish blindly gobbling large dry flies at each rock and seam, you’re certain for disappointment, and upset anglers are usually not enjoyable.

For the report, I’m additionally not satisfied that Japanese anglers are literally nearly as good as they suppose they’re. I’m positive catching pellet-heads that handle to overwinter in city streams amongst chubs and tires calls for a sure degree of grit. However simply since you’re dogged sufficient to attain the terrified palomino that survived 17 snagging makes an attempt that day, doesn’t essentially translate to fooling large, wild rainbows on the Harriman Ranch.

There are many proficient anglers from the Atlantic facet of the U.S., and I agree that you’ve fewer choices in terms of fly fishing for trout. The factor is, you’re not so good as you suppose you might be, and the fishing out West isn’t as simple as you assume it to be. These misconceptions don’t essentially make you “worse” than your Western counterparts, they simply make you extra annoying.

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