Fly fishing is a business. If you don’t believe that, check out the array and cost of fly rods, reels, lines, leaders and all that gets tied on from there. Too, ask what it costs to take a guided float trip on any of the fabled rivers in Michigan and around the country and get ready to change the intent of your Christmas savings account to your fishing account. Your kid’s college fund might have to take a hit too.
Whenever I question the cost of these things, I get inundated with the “T” and “E” words, “technology” and “expertise.” Case in point: fiberglass rods are making a resurgence. You remember fiberglass, that light, tough, whippy, cheap material that every fishing rod manufacturer branded as the best new technological advancement since Pasture told us to boil milk. Well, soon after there came graphite, then boron, then a composite and now fiberglass again …a technologically advanced fiberglass of course.
When this new fiberglass fad ushered in, I pulled out my old Pflueger Supreme fly rod I bought at Geak’s Sporting Goods Store on Woodward in Ferndale back in the 70’s. It was the first rod I bought that came in a case – a soft case with a zipper. Tim Geak sold it to me for $25. The price on the new ones is almost $400 and they go up from there.
I guess that everything is relative because graphite rods vary from under $100 to over $1000. And bamboo can set you back several thousand dollars. Of course, these costs are the result of our willingness to pay them.
I don’t begrudge guides from making a living. It’s hard work, rowing people down rivers, lakes and around the ocean. But is a boat ride worth $500? I guess it is if you get put on the fish of a lifetime fishing in some tropical or wilderness setting not easily gotten to. But what about a few miles from home?
It’s getting crowded on Michigan Rivers and streams. More and more drift boats rowed and poled by guides make their way from public access to access and some behave as though they own the water their floating on; going as far as having someone stake out their best producing holes. I’ve heard of people almost getting into fist fights over the practice.
Paint Creek, a premier trout stream in Oakland County, is the newest battleground. The Department of Natural Resources several years ago held Town Hall meetings to get input from fishermen about limits and restrictions that should be applied on the Paint. Several miles of river were designated as “Gear Restricted” as a result and for all practical purposes, that means flies only – though it really means no live bait.
Now some want to designate Paint Creek as “catch and release” only.
I just want to go fishing. I want to be able to eat what I catch on occasion and I want to do it without the fish costing me $200 per pound.