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If you are a hunter, the rut is a special time. Bucks will be chasing does and the activity can last all day long leading to a very exciting time to be in the woods. As a fisherman, a rut is a horrible experience and not a place any of us should spend any time in. Last year I found myself in one of the deepest of my entire fishing career. I was struggling with my tactics, using the same stuff and hitting the same holes without an ounce of enthusiasm and it showed in my success, or lack thereof.

Early this year I decided my goal would not be success, big fish, species count or anything like that; I wanted my goal to be having fun! I planned to hit water I hadn’t fished in a while and fish in ways that were different or more challenging than my “normal” mode of operation. For me that meant I would be breaking out the fly gear. I bought my first fly rod when I was 12 years old, it was hanging in a blister pack in the post exchange on Fort Rucker, Alabama. I didn’t have a clue what to do with it and being a vast amount of years before the internet, I didn’t have much help either. I somehow figured out how to cast and caught a few fish with it and thoroughly enjoyed myself in the process.

Through the decades after that, I have expanded my fly gear and will pick it up and use it from time to time but never anything steady or serious. This year I wanted to make sure that the fly would be my primary weapon and it has really brought back a fire and passion to my pursuit. I have had multiple best days with the long rod from biggest fish to most fish and several river “slams” along the way (largemouth, spotted bass and shoal bass in a day for me).

I can’t begin to tell you what a breath of fresh air it has been to change things up a bit and get out of that rut! If you find yourself in the same situation, take a short assessment and ask yourself what your primary goal is. Fishing should relieve stress, not cause it! Maybe do what I did and break out some fly-fishing gear or grab an ultralight and a cricket bucket and get back to basics. Find some new water to fish that you haven’t been on before or at the very least try new spots on the old places. On my trip to Point Aux Chenes this year I decided to not fish any place I had been before, and it was awesome. Find some way to pump life into this passion we all share, and it will be worth the effort. Start enjoying your time on the water more and save the rut for deer season!