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Mark Stangeland - NUFlyGuide
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The Game

Posted by Mark Monday, November 28, 2011

Several friends and I have been playing a game of sorts on the river for a very long time. It is a game that nobody wins and a game nobody loses. It's a game of the mind and one that takes some practice as well as a good poker face. It's a game that you often don't know you are playing. It's a game where you hope the other guy doesn't know he's playing.It's a game that can agitate and infuriate, it can also make you laugh. The rules are simple, be very vague about where you are catching fish.I won't say we lie per se but we do embellish(bad spots) or down play(good spots)as the case warrants.

On a river like the NU,where runs are so visible it is hard to hide from your buddies that know you and where you like to fish. We all know when something is working for one of us when we see him in XYZ pool off and on for a week straight. But upon further inquiry around the dinner table later when asked what's going on in XYZ pool, the person that has been caught will say something like "Yeah, I've been in there a little but but they don't live in there like they used to, it's really filled in". This could mean one of two things, he's been rippin um in there or they don't live in there like they used to and it's really filled in, it just took a week for him to find out that info. Now you can always go and see what it looks like and make that determination for yourself or believe the person.

Trying to fish the runs you like, trying to keep hush hush about what's working, and keeping an eye on where your buddies are fishing,and fishing consistently becomes a real circus.This is where the game gets fun. We are all mining for info all the time. We all know the river so well that it doesn't really  matter what your buddies say, we will all find fish. But,the thing is we all want to high grade and fish the most productive water we can, especially if we have clients.If I can get some reliable info that will keep me over fish I'll listen and take it. It's deciding what is true and what is a bluff to throw you off that is the game.

I could say I have been doing well in ABC pool on dries and in reality haven't gotten a sniff in weeks in that pool. The pool that really works for me on dries every time is DEF pool.But I ain't telling them that, at least not yet. Maybe in a few weeks when it quits working I will use it to draw their attention off another pool that IS working. Meanwhile, your buddies are doing the same exact thing with you. It's a game to throw everyone off the trail.Pools that are fishing really good need to be fished in a hit and run manner. You don't want to be seen by the bro's in a run too often or it may raise their suspicion that you know something they don't. Trying to keep up with and read between the lines when talking to the boys at night is fun. Sometimes and actually fairly often, truly honest information changes hands. Other times it's complete bull. You become skilled at reading the eyes and facial expressions,looking for that tell, just like poker. We play a lot of poker too so the card game gets taken to the river every day.

In the depths of winter sitting around the wood stove, months after the summer season is over we start to let slip where we were actually catching fish. Things like " You know that run that filled in? I found out where they were in there, way down below where we normally fish and river left off that submerged rock". The rest of us will say, " You dirty dog! We knew you were getting them in there we just couldn't find them"

In reality there are few real fishing secrets between my small group of friends. But there are some, as there should and probably always will be. We all have special places that we go to get away from the crowds.There are still secret places on the river. Places where amazing fish have been caught that were never talked anyone. Fish that were caught in out of the way places, where no studded boot has stood before. Yes, there are still places like that on the river, many seek them out but few will ever find them.

Meanwhile,somewhere on the shores of the North Umpqua is a small band of brothers, endlessly chasing the now almost mythical fish, and playing The Game.


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