You know what I mean. Sitting in front of your computer, trying to get “work” done, you are drawn back to the webpage that contains the information you want. And you tap F5. Every once in a while, you might actually click the refresh button. If the data isn’t changing enough to make you feel like you’re getting the results you want, you may even relaunch the page, restart your browser, or reboot your computer.
Why? You’re watching and waiting for water.
I suppose that back in the day, people would just plan on going fishing – and then they would go fishing. Perhaps a monsoon at the eleventh hour would deter someone. Or, hearing from a trusted source that the Corps of Engineers are letting a lot of water out might change your plans. But by and large, there was a lot of faith in conditions being suitable for a day on the water.
We have the benefit of being a few smartphone taps away from instantaneous precipitation and river flow conditions. The USGS operates thousands of monitoring stations, and there are more online weather resources than one can count.
Of course, there have always been other ways to ascertain the water conditions. If creek X is running at height A, then there is a good chance that creek Y will have flows around B. Usually. Or, grandpa’s knee might be acting up. Or, you look out the window and notice that the sky is reddish-purple. Then a few minutes later you check again and it looks more purplish-red. So you wait a few minutes and check again. The original F5.
Having some idea of the conditions that await us is comforting. The bugs might not be hatching, the fish might not be feeding, but at least the water won’t be high and muddy. A good looking radar map or river gauge can put your mind at ease, which can go a long way in giving you a positive outlook for a day of fishing. And that, if we’re honest with ourselves, probably has a lot more to do with a successful day on the water than conditions ever could.
Regardless of if you use technology or folklore, there are ways in which we occupy ourselves to prepare for a fly fishing outing. We all do it. Our thresholds may be different and our purposes might be unique, but there is something about knowing one more variable before we head out that sets our minds at ease.