Big Fish, Little Fish…Photo Envy

by Rebecca on January 30, 2010

in Fly Fishing

Big Fish

Does this count as a Big Fish Picture?

If one were to observe the fishing magazines, or stroll through all the profile portraits on Facebook or even visit various fishing blogs and websites, one might start to think the only fish to be caught were monsters that require a forklift to haul them out of the water. It’s almost enough to nudge those of us who cast our flies for the little fish into short-fish complex territory.

I’d love to claim I’ve caught loads of huge fish over the years, but truth be told, I catch more little fish than big fish. In my Idaho-ish fishing world, anything over 20 inches I consider an achievement. I guess that’s the limitations of enjoying the quiet streams, ordinary rivers and unpopular small time fisheries..(ok, and my blessed trout family)

I need to get back out, travel a little ways and catch a few big ass steelies or a knarly salmon so that I can get my very own big fish picture to flash during the moments I’m overcome with a small fish photo complex. This sense of photo envy (not to be mistaken for fish envy because I like my little fish just fine) rears it’s ugly head when I’m online. Doesn’t anyone proudly display pictures of little fish anymore?

Now, just to be clear, I’ve got nothing against the big fish. I appreciate the big fish as much as anyone. I’ve caught sturgeon, king salmon in Alaska, regular plain jane salmon and steelhead. I’m not immune to the thrill and spend a lot of my summer in pursuit of the big boys which I’m sure I’ll document for the first time via this medium….if I can convince someone to be a photographer.

I started this fishy blog 3 months ago. Until that point in time, I’d been lacking a certain ‘public’ incentive to take pictures of my adventures in fly swinging….I’m attempting to change that oversight by actively seeking individuals who would be willing to come fishing with me on the condition that they are to drop their pursuit of fish and take action shots of me when the moment calls for it. So far, within my own small group of fishing buddies, my requests have been met with resistance.

For example: A conversation with a roughneck fisherman I’ve nicknamed Huck:
Me: Huck, I need you to come fishing with me and be my designated photographer.
HUCK: Whatdayamean?
Me: Well, you’ll need to stay close to me and when I catch fish you’ll have to take pictures.
HUCK: Whatdayamean?
Me: Pictures. I need some damn pictures. I need you to stop fishing for 5 seconds and take my picture.
HUCK: You’re joking right? You want me to be your river bitch?
Me: See, this is why I have so few pictures of me holding fish. I have a blog now and a responsibility to visually represent my time on the water. I neeeeeeddddd a big fish picture!
HUCK: You want me to stop fishing when there’s big fish biting and take pictures of you? Sounds like a personal problem to me.
Me: I know….



{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

KenNo Gravatar January 30, 2010 at 1:38 pm

Well, at least you do not have fish envy, just a little photo envy :o )


IndigoNo Gravatar January 30, 2010 at 2:45 pm

That end conversation cracked me up. If I lived closer I would be your river bitch. Wait…umm photographer. Sounds better doesn’t it? Do you people really call it that? Yes, I said you people. I’m not a fisher, fly fisher, what ja ma call it. (Hugs)Indigo


RebeccaNo Gravatar January 30, 2010 at 3:45 pm

@Ken ~ Good point! If I had fish envy, I’d have to move…

@Indigo ~ I have no doubt you would make an excellent river bitch :-) And yes, the guys I hang out with consider anything that resembles manual help to another fellow fisherman an act of river bitch duties. In a way, it’s a term of endearment. They are pretty rough around the edges guys and as the sole and solitary female among the ranks, I’ve learned to blend with the natives, speak the language and in return they’ve accepted me as one of the guys and treat me as such…


WolfyNo Gravatar January 30, 2010 at 4:48 pm

Sounds almost like a challenge to those of us who thrive on small trout. I am a die-hard headwater angler and love cuts and brookies. Size is TOTALLY on these waters. I tried to activate a gravater proving my point – we’ll see if it works.



Kentucky JimNo Gravatar January 30, 2010 at 5:04 pm

Rebecca, all ya gotta do is buy me a round trip ticket, pay for my lodging and meals, and I’m there, Darlin…I’m totally there.


Kentucky JimNo Gravatar January 30, 2010 at 5:05 pm

Hell, I’ll even bring the camera.


RebeccaNo Gravatar January 30, 2010 at 6:14 pm

@Wolfy ~ your gravatar worked and that little fish is a beauty! We need to post more little fish beauties out for the world to appreciate and admire. I thank you for sharing ;-)

@Kentucky Jim ~ Thank you–I will keep that in mind and in the savings budget! Someday, I hope to swing flies or talk over water with many of you…and we will all bring cameras to document the fun ~


MelNo Gravatar January 30, 2010 at 7:56 pm

I am a fan of small creeks and streams and smaller fish, too! The size of the fish is secondary to the stalking and hooking of a fish. If it is a bigger fish, then that is frosting on the cake.

Someday your big fish will come!


WolfyNo Gravatar January 30, 2010 at 8:05 pm

Oops – edit to my post above – size is totally irrelevant on these waters.

(Sounded stupid when missing a key word!)


nimrod243No Gravatar January 30, 2010 at 11:21 pm

I know what you mean. It’s almost like people think less of you as a fisherman if you don’t have pictures of some huge fish on your blog. That’s just not fair! I am going to proudly display more pictures of the little guys.


ken morrowNo Gravatar January 31, 2010 at 6:49 am

we have become a very visual culture, and “bigger is better” plays well in pictures and video. but that’s ok. our beautiful, quiet, peaceful, and fragile small streams full of small trout and our solitary ponds teeming with bluegills bigger than a basketball center’s hand would lose their magic and charm if all those double-hauling, half-a-chicken tossing, smallest fly rod they own is a 7wt grip-n-grin types got wind of why we do what we do.

some folks live on the beach and vacation in the mountains. other folks live in the mountains and vacation at the beach. and a few poor saps live in big cities and vacation on cruise ships. different strokes for different folks i guess.


ShoremanNo Gravatar January 31, 2010 at 12:07 pm

Hey Rebecca. I have the solution for you. I use my next door neighbor, You know Bob, I plow for fish, as my unofficial blog photographer. Keeping in mind that Bob is 80 something, he goes once in a while, but takes photo’s when he does. So the solution to your problem would be to find somebody like Bob and drag them along. Could be man or woman and you’d probably make a friend for life.



KirkNo Gravatar January 31, 2010 at 12:47 pm

There’s more to fishing than catching big fish.
These words brought to you by one who seldom catches anything over a dozen inches. I’d gladly come to your neck of the woods and be your photographer, but Mrs. UA would probably have an issue with that:

Mrs: Where do you think you’re going?

Me: Me? Oh, I’m just going to Boise to photograph the Outdooress while she catches big fish.

Mrs: Don’t bother coming home then.

Another option is to just Photoshop trophy fish in your possession ;)


DanNo Gravatar January 31, 2010 at 3:35 pm

No, the picture does’nt count, but still a good picture. I’ve caught more small fish than I care to remember. To think back on my fishing trips the time and effort, made a difference on how excited I was for that first fish small or large. Nothing compares to hooking that lunker so I have to side with the big fish.
Great Stories (Keep them comming)


JohnNo Gravatar January 31, 2010 at 11:42 pm

I love our native waters here. A good day is nice brown or brookie around 8-10 inches. Most common are smaller than that. Something about a native stream you just can’t find anywhere else. Lets see if an image will work here..



JohnNo Gravatar January 31, 2010 at 11:52 pm

Oh well, guess not. Anyways, my (uh hum) river bitch is my wading staff. The top screws off to expose a mount for my camera. She always performs as I like, never complains and is cheap to maintain :)

Here is a little one for ya..

And another of the more common size. Caught this one in the Smoky Mtns..


clifNo Gravatar February 1, 2010 at 10:54 am

Maybe you can find a crack addict to exploit, but you’ll pay by the half hour.

I used to wedge my camera into a tree or find a nearby dry rock. Now I bring a small tripod, it collapses to about 12 inches long and weighs about a pound. With a Wally World price under $20, you’ll be hard pressed to find a river bitch for less. You seem smart enough, I bet you can figure something out.


NerverackerNo Gravatar February 1, 2010 at 11:55 am

Small fish… Big fish… I say, size is relative. When you’re fishing a stream that is 10-15′ across, the size of your quarry is relative to the size of the body of water and species you pursue.
As several of you stated, you prefer a 2 or 3 wt chasing 6″ native brookies and cutts in headwater streams. I tip my hat to you, those are big native fish that live in those head-waters. Those fish very are smart and very spooky. They have to be to survive,and you as an angler, must be on top of your game to catch those fish. As a fly angler, you must have the most delicate presentations, be a master of dead drift, have pin-point precision casting, and be a total master of stealth. And you all do it and make it look easy.
Personally, I prefer to fish a little bigger water. It’s a ton more forgiving. As I can size up on tippet, and my presentation doesn’t always have to be quite so delicate, I don’t have to be quite as stealthy, and of course, the fish are typically larger. Catching a fish 14-20″ isn’t uncommon, but neither is catching one 8-12″.
Then you have the guys and gals, that prefer to fish tidal areas or lakes, where fish get even larger.
What I’m saying is… fish size is relative to the body of waters you fish. If Joe Schmoe shows me a picture of a trout that’s 5″ long that he caught in some headwater stream that’s 8′wide, that’s a BIG fish. On the flip side of that coin, Jim Schmoe shows me a picture of a 1200lb blue marlin tagged and released out of the Gulf Stream, that is a BIG fish.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy catching big fish as much as the next unaccomplished or accomplished angler or outdooress. A 20+” native redside (rainbow) will sure put a bend in my 6wt and a huge smile on my face. But seeing pictures of a 10″ native rainbow or 6″ native brookie sure puts a smile on my face too. Why? Its simple, because that means that those fish have survived, and those fish are being naturally propagated as nature intended in that river system.
Be proud of those 6″ natives being caught in the headwaters, be proud of the 20″ natives caught in larger rivers, and be proud of those little big fish and any other fish you catch.
Ut-oh, I’ve written another novel.
Oh and I’ll be your river bitch anytime! I want to become a guide, and from the way I see it, guides are the best river bitches!



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