To start with, take a step back and think about what it is you are doing. There is no better place than where you are at when you are out fishing. The river at your feet, the surrounding woods, and the anticipation of a fish each and every cast. That in itself is a pretty sweet deal that most really never experience. Once you are thankful for that, you can appreciate each trip out a little more. Take the competition out of your day. Don’t spend your time fighting others for your “secret spot.” Chances are that is everyone else’s spot too! If you can see another person fishing anywhere nearby, find somewhere else to fish. There is always more water elsewhere, be cordial and move on helping both of you to enjoy your day. Don’t get hung up on catching the fish of a lifetime on each cast every time out. If it happened like that, they wouldn’t call it a fish of lifetime! Sure, there will be good times, and downright miserable days, but each are unique just like the fish that you seek.
Pick up fly tying if you haven’t already. Though many fly anglers call themselves fly tiers, there are many fly tiers that call themselves fly anglers. There is nothing more rewarding as a fly angler than to catch your first fish on a fly that you tied yourself. For those who still buy all of your flies, get some tying gear and hooks and take up the hobby. There are many online tutorials on fly tying or join a local tying club or meeting. Flies don’t require being works of art to catch fish, they just have to look similar to what it is you are imitating. Those that tie their own flies should constantly be trying to improve flies they have already been tying. Don’t just copy a guides choice fly because they use it, tie something that has something unique to you and improve on it. One certain fly isn’t always going to work for everyone. Adding your own flare will make it worth that much more to you when the next fish takes.
Try to take home something from each outing that you can look back and reference for future trips. Whether it’s why your twenty inch brown sipped your dry fly on your first cast, or why it is that you lost him to the wood. Take a little time to reflect on your day so that you can make the next one that much better. Maybe you have fished steelhead with only one tried and true method for 20 years. Go ahead and challenge yourself to use a different fly or method. Put down your egg rod and pick up the swing rod or vice versa, or start stripping streamers off of each bank. You will find a sense of accomplishment with success of each little change to your program. Another way to keep things fresh is trying for a new species or even trying out a new river or lake. A change in scenery every once in while throughout the year is a good way to broaden you fishing knowledge while still feeding your fishing appetite. Create a list of different fish that you want to catch during the year and see if you can check off each one. There is an abundance of fish out there that can be enticed with the fly, get out there and start fishing!
Remember to keep an open mind during your next outing. Try a new piece of water and don’t be afraid to try fishing around the bend. Find out what it is that you can improve on and work at it. Take out the competition and negativity and help yourself as well as other anglers enjoy the day. There are endless ways to enjoy your time on the water, but of course there is nothing wrong with catching fish while you are at it!