This past week, my work obligations took me far from the mountains of home.

During my departure, my mind kept flashing images and thoughts of home —particularly fishing. Daydreaming of fishing is not unusual for me. I have been fishing in West Virginia my entire life and many of my most fond memories were made while doing so. Although I admit, that most my recollections have been concentrated on two particular species of fish — smallmouth bass and trout.

Growing up on one of our state's famous smallmouth rivers, caused my fascination and love affair for smallies. Although I'm not 100% certain, I can only assume it was the first fish I ever fished for and most likely was my first catch. Smallmouth fishing was very important to my father and brother and being the youngest in the family, I joined in their passion for fishing way before my memories were able to be stored or recalled. Even if I am missing a few early-aged memories, I have more than made up for them in my lifelong pursuit of the game fish.

Fishing out your backdoor is a wonderful way to grow up, but so is taking a trip to the mountains to catch trout. Leaving our hometown, with the truck packed full of enough outdoor gear and food to last a week, and heading to the Mon Forest for a vacation where trout were the main attraction was as good as it can get for a knobby-kneed kid who dreamed of fishing in far away places. The scenic drives, the cold waters, the rhododendron and mountain laurel hillsides in bloom, the campfires and cooking outside and especially the freedom to walk upstream in search of a hidden hole full of trout - all made for the perfect West Virginia vacation. I can simply close my eyes today and still hear the creek's rushing waters and smell the fresh mountain air.

But this week away from home was different. I was not causing myself to become homesick by daydreaming of smallmouth bass or wild trout. Nope, not even a little. What I was driving myself crazy over was another species of fish I am much more unfamiliar with. You see lately I have had the fever bad for this fish. I am not certain of the cause whether it be because of the challenge of catching them, the species itself or that maybe I am just needing another challenge added to my growing list of outdoor pursuits I have on my bucket list. I am not for certain. Here is what I am certain of - walleye have my number. There I said it and that is generally the first step to understanding you have a problem - admitting it.

I have been spending a fair amount of my fishing time recently learning to locate and occasionally catching walleyes. In fact, my last few trips have been so successful locating and catching them, that I think I'm on a roll. But what is killing me is that I can't prove that until I am home and trying my luck again with the fish. This working thing is really getting in my way of becoming educated enough on the species and their habits to become a proficient enough angler to catch them with prediction on a regular basis.

Only time will tell and until then, I'll pretend to be listening in the business meeting but you can bet your lunch money that I'll be daydreaming of my home waters and the fish that also call West Virginia home.

Chris Ellis of Fayetteville, W.Va., an outdoorsman and Marshall University graduate, is owner of Ellis Communications, a public relations agency serving the outdoor industry. Contact him at chris@elliscom.net.


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