I’ve been fishing pretty much since I could walk. My dad is a talented angler and he started taking me when I was a toddler. Growing up in Vermont, we caught a lot of freshwater fish. It was always something we could do together, a bond and connection that was strengthened on family vacations to Cape Cod, where we spent hours wading the sandy flats stalking striped bass, the Cape’s crown jewel of inshore sport fishing.
Looking for a new challenge, I started fly fishing about ten years ago. At first it was only occasionally, but now, and now it’s pretty much the only way I fish. For me, fly fishing versus spin fishing is more satisfying. There’s more of a chase in convincing a picky fish to take the bait. When you catch a fish with a fly that you tied yourself, that’s the greatest feeling in the world.
As I learned from my father, there is an artistry to the true sport of fishing – the challenge of creating a convincing imitation of nature. I’m a purist. I don’t use bait, or chum. You have to figure out how the water is moving and match what the fish are feeding on. Practice makes perfect when outsmarting the fish. You try to create realistic scenarios and if the fish is convinced, you know you have succeeded.
The other draw for me is immersion in nature. I moved here four years ago, and through fishing I find myself getting to explore another side of the Cape, discovering hidden corners that seem to be in infinite supply. Wading into an estuary, river, or inlet, you get into spots that boats can’t find, bottlenecks where fish congregate for that very reason. These are beautiful places I wouldn’t otherwise know existed.
Stripers are here from early May to October. In the fall, false albacore begin to show up, and they’re on my bucket list. I’ve caught them spin fishing, but never with a fly. As things start to quiet down, I find my fishing sessions even more rewarding. 75% of the time or more I am by myself. I steal away in the early morning before the day starts, or after work. Even when I’m not catching anything, I connect with the wild in different ways, encountering a turtle, osprey, fox, or coyote. After staring at a monitor for the better part of the day, it’s a completely relaxing, decompressing activity. It’s my therapy.
My wife Nicole and I went to Antigua for our honeymoon last November, and I had my first experience in pursuit of tarpon. It was fascinating to study a new creature in an entirely different habitat. After 30 years of battling stripers, my instinct was to keep resistance on the rod, but tarpon shoot out of the water, and when they do you have to give the line some slack. After learning the hard way, I didn’t land any fish, which left me humbled and wanting to go back and try again, maybe in Florida. That’s the thing about fly fishing – there are so many different species, and so many environments. I guess there’s a corollary to what we’re doing in residential design, adapting to where you are, evaluating the conditions and responding to them. There is much to learn, in our own backyard and around the world.
Editor’s Note – September 12, 2017
This past weekend, Jonathan Fox landed his first false albacore on a fly.
About the Author:
Jonathan Fox is a Designer in our Falmouth office. Before joining Hutker Architects in 2010, he apprenticed a Master Carpenter, gaining insight into the craft and science that goes into the execution of any good design. When he’s not chasing stripers, Jonathan can be found cycling or volunteering with Habitat for Humanity.