While walking down the path to one of your favorite sections of river, did you ever wonder how the path got there? The path is a mark of thousands of anglers that have also walked in to fish that area thousands of times, but how did the path first get there? Did you ever wonder who the first person was that walked back into that section of stream? At some point, there was an angler that decided to venture into an unknown piece of water and blaze a trail. This angler’s curious mind and ambition to explore new water created a path into this area for the first time. Through time, a path to this section is carved into the ground for many other anglers to follow in pursuit of catching fish for years to come.
Like anyone else, I have my fair share of favorite spots that I make sure to hit many times through the course of a year. Some of the best spots to fish in the Central Pennsylvania area can be found by following paths carved six inches into the ground from angling traffic. Although, I lead myself to believe that there are still plenty of “uncharted” sections of water. Maybe it’s my own imagination driving me to find the next great unknown riffle that could be home to the next big fish that’s never been caught. Maybe all of the best sections of water have already been discovered, but I would never let myself believe that. Angling exploration is a huge driving force that fuels my passion for fishing. In other words, I love the sections of water where there are no paths. Does this mean that absolutely no one else fishes there? Probably not, but at least there is no evidence of any one else being there, except me.
Venturing into unknown territory certainly has its rewards. New water could yield the fish of a lifetime, a new section of productive water that faces low angling pressure, or a sanctuary for angling solitude. However, reaping the rewards of exploring new water is not for the faint at heart. Simply put, you can’t be afraid to fail. There will be days that plans absolutely do not work out. There will be days that you bushwhack a path through miles of terrible water to possibly catch no fish at all. What keeps me anxious to explore new water is the anticipation of not knowing what’s around the bend. Every single cast is a thrill due to having no preconception about what size or type of fish might be on the over end of the line. In my opinion (Yes, I’m aware is of little or no value), the rewards and excitement of exploring new water far outweigh the risks.
Each day on the water is a decision as to which type of angler you will be. You could join the masses by following high traffic angling paths to the water you fish. Or, you could be an angler that sets foot into unknown territory for the next adventure of blazing a trail to explore new water. I do believe there is a time and place for both types of angling. As of recent, I have felt inclined to continue exploring. Central Pennsylvania alone has more pieces of water to offer than most anglers have days to fish. Someday, I want to be the old angler sitting in the fly shop drinking coffee each morning that has “fished it all”. Every day spent exploring new water is one step closer to that goal.