Measure of Success

I don’t mean to write from a position of power, as though I am expert in anything at all. As a matter of fact, I have worked unknowing and with some ‘success’ I might add, at a comfortable level of mediocrity at all things related to recreating. I’m OK with that and if I might be a bit self-indulgent for a moment; comfortable in my under achiever status. I choose to look at these things through the lens of the philosophical. The birds and fish are better off.


I love excellence and appreciate it when I see it, but since a small boy–I’ve enjoyed being in the great outdoors for its own sake and am often distracted with my surroundings and own thoughts.

I friend of mine commented recently in the context of how many folks seem to look at some of these activities in field and stream in a competitive way–and often in conversation measure things that way.

Comparing dogs, guns, rods and reels and everything pertaining and then tying those things to more birds bagged or more and bigger fish caught seems inevitable. Now before you get your undies in a bunch, let me explain further. I’m all for competition. Competition is integral to the ways of the universe and since I live in the universe, I’m all for it.

I like tools that do the job that they were designed for and the better the tool, the happier I am in using it. In principle, I’m not against bagging limits, bigger trout and  or any such thing. I’m only pointing out that we generally want for better tools in order to shoot more birds or catch more and bigger fish and then we measure and compare ourselves to other folks based on those things. These things take up a lot of time and ink–and that is just dandy, but maybe we can use another measure more often and come away from a day afield pleased each time.

I reckon I’ve come the long way around the barn to get to my point, but I’m not feeling very eloquent today.

Perhaps we can compete over who ‘enjoyed’ themselves more on any given day. Perhaps the true gurus of field and stream are those that can point the way to the esoteric.

The true elite? Those that know how to enjoy. The true elite of field and stream have not been silent over the years, but the cacophony of the other aided by consumerism and those that hunger for the latest and greatest gadgetry and how best to use them, have out done them.

When the other things fade away down the darkened tunnels of memory, one can remember the look in the eyes of a bird dog, the filter of sun light through leaves of green or bright autumn, the flash of a trout in the sun and the thunderous flush of a ruffed grouse, the moldy smell of a forest floor and a bubbling fresh spring of water and how one has felt enjoying those moments.

When you’ve mastered to human potential a smooth bore and have the perfect bird dog and after you have reached the apex of all things trout with an artificial fly–when there is nothing left of those things to reach for, you can enjoy yourself all the more.

🙂 Hey–I had more fun than you did.


~ by John McGranaghan on July 24, 2010.

9 Responses to “Measure of Success”

  1. Every now and then I get a client – often two guys learning to fly fish – who are into fish counting. Sometimes it is a father and son and the son usually wants to “one-up” his dad. I always tell them that it isn’t the fish count that is important – it is how high your “fun-meter” registers. Just having a chance to get out and enjoy a beautiful stream with the opportunity to learn and test new skills gets my “fun-meter” revved up. I feel bad for people who feel like the day was a waste and they were a failure if they caught less fish than someone else. If there was ever a win-win situation, it is fishing with a friend, sibling, parent or spouse. The real joy is giving your friend a fly you tied and having them catch a fish on it. (It’s also nice if you get one too!) The next best thing is you and your good friend getting skunked by some very picky trout on a beautiful stream. If we caught every fish we cast to it wouldn’t be much fun either, would it?

  2. Nice read Parker. No place in the field for pride and ego. Once introduced, enjoyment is sure to cease. If the dogs are having a good go of it and making game, it’s a good day.

  3. well done. What is important is the little things to some but are big things to us. A dog on point is more important to me than the retreive. although, the dog wants the retrieve!!!


  4. Thanks, Dave. That is kind of you.
    There are some very fortunate folks that live in areas with great numbers of birds and with rivers that hold awesome trout opportunity–heck–I wish I did. I’d put more birds down for the pups and catch more and better fish and enjoy it as much as the next guy. I’m not, in any way, drawing comparisons against those things. That conversation has taken place often enough and that isn’t where I was going. I plan to travel to these places more than I have, in the future, and I assume to have a blast–all the more for the bounty. Its just that a friend’s comment sparked the notion of competing around ‘who has more fun’ for its own sake–so I thought I’d have fun and write about it. I meant to be somewhat comical, while making my point. I fear that I didn’t do a very good job.

  5. Good job or not it was a nice read. I really think that sometimes I think fishing alone is the best way to go. That way the only one you need to impress is yourself, and for me that is very easy to do. Just being on a beautiful stream all alone is very impressive to me, and if I catch a few good fish even better.

    Thanks again for the good read.

    • I often enjoy myself most when alone, but there are also many times when I find myself almost looking around for someone to exclaim to–“did you see that”, or some such when admiring something of the outdoors.
      I end up talking to myself at those times.

  6. John

    Fished alone on Sunday and had a great time, when fishing this one stream I was wondering who I could tell about my good fortune when low and behold there is a CO looking at me. Very nice young man and we did have a great conversation about fish and fishing the small mountain rivers. His name was Mark Ober and I must say a very good spokes person for the CO service in NH.


    • Hello Lee–we still need to wet a line together.
      Thanks for stopping by. I have been a bit distracted with the new job, and haven’t blogged lately. Soon, we’ll be training and running the dogs, fishing again and finally chasing grouse and woodcock around these parts and in the woods of our northern neighbor–Maine.
      I was thinking of maybe driving up past Bartlett to hike into a certain mountain stream, soon. The falling temps are nice.

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