Streamer fishing can change a fisherman.
At least it changed me. Knowing you will need bigger rods, bigger lines, and BIG streamers. Knowing your chances of a fish are slim on most outings. That’s what draws me to it. I’m addicted to that nervousness you get when your streamer swims away from that log or bush. I know there’s a 40% or less chance of a fish destroying that thing as it swims past the structure. That’s enough chance for me to keep banging the banks waiting for “the sleeping monster”. The fish that won’t eat stupid nymphs or dainty dry flies. I want the fish that eats MEAT. The one that eats once or twice a day and eats big. The fish that you won’t ever forget regardless if you catch it or not.
It took me at least a year to convert. It’s tough going from dozens of fish a day to hopefully one or two big fish a day. I learned to appreciate the anticipation of the hit. The belief that when it happens it’s gonna be worth it. After a while I found myself throwing streamers during dry fly hatches in hopes of catching the big brown. I figured he would be eating the little fish rising to the dry flies. It took a while but I started catching fairly big browns. With every brown I started learning more. I also started venturing out of the trout realm and into the warm water species to get me through the low clear water months of summer.
As with any style fishing you start meeting other fisherman with the same interests as you. Unlike other styles though, streamer fishing has A LOT of down time. Times when fishing is just slow. That’s where I feel streamer guys are different. We have to make the trip fun regardless of the “bite” and sometimes that leads us into strange conversations, and jokes that make the line between funny and insulting so thin it blows away with the wind. I still wouldn’t trade my friends for the best streamer day or biggest fish of my life.
I’ve found there are different levels of streamer addicts. Some guys love fishing for musky which is, to me, the ultimate in streamer dedication. Those guys will go weeks or months without hooking a fish. Other guys like to spend a day catching sunfish or other smaller fish. 50 fish days are not uncommon but usually involve fish less than half a pound. I fall in between those two categories. I like searching for the big one but I’m not a big fan of fishing for two weeks without a bite. For me that’s where smallmouth come in. They hit a streamer hard and they aren’t as picky as a brown trout or a musky.
When I started fly fishing I was into nymphs mostly. I spent my days worrying about how many fish I can catch, and trout were the only thing worth fly fishing for. As I evolved into a streamer guy I changed. I started looking forward to spending time with my insulting friends and insulting them as well. It’s not necessarily about the fish anymore even though it’s great to catch a bigger one then your buddies. I really didn’t care what species we were trying to catch just as long as we had streamers in the water. I share this connection with guys I’ve never fished with and even some I’ve never met in person.