Ask my fishing friend, Tim, “How’d you do?” and he’ll likely reply, “I had a good day.”  While he may have kept a tally of his catch, he never shared it. I once inquired why that was. His response was it didn’t matter how many fish he caught, he always had a great day.

For most anglers, numbers do matter. They can tell you exactly how many fish everyone caught each outing. While I admire those who can fish all day without catching and still lay claim to an outstanding day fishing, I personally need at least one fish. Even my fishing buddies note that my attitude greatly improves after my first fish comes to hand. These days I can pretty much tell you exactly how many fish I caught, provided it’s 10 or under. After that, I quickly lose count.

However, there’s one number I’m always able to tell you at day’s end. That’s the number of species and a length estimate of the longest for each species. For example, on a recent outing to Horsetooth Reservoir, I managed 5 species, bluegill – 8”, yellow perch – 9”, black crappie – 9”, smallmouth bass – 14” and white bass – 16”. As to total count, I’m not sure, but I imagine it was a few dozen as I caught several of each species that day.

For some anglers, size matters more than numbers. These anglers constantly seek out the largest of their favorite species. Always hoping the next cast will produce a new personal best. I’ll admit that I too chase trophy fish, in that I collect master angler awards for different species. It doesn’t really matter how many total trophies I catch, only the biggest of each species.To date, I have awards for 19 of the possible 43 species for which Colorado offers certificates, and dream of the day when I’ll have all 43. Maybe even a few from other states.

Of all the numbers to measure success, the one I like the best is the number of species caught over the course of the year. This year I’ve caught 20 different species and have my eye on a number more, such as catfish, drum, tiger trout, tiger muskie, cutthroat and spotted bass, to name a few.

In fact, catching different species has been driving my choice of fishing locations as I prepare for the only tournament I’m likely to fish this year, the Mile High 25 hosted by Anglers All in Littleton. This contest appeals to me for a couple reasons  First off, it’s a fly fishing only contest that’s open. That means it doesn’t have a skill based component, such as casting, to qualify. Second, winners are determined by who catches the most species from a list of 25 over a two day period anywhere in Colorado. 

Last year, Cody and I competed and finished 7th out of a field of 25 with 10 species. What frustrated us was we hooked and lost three species over the course of the tournament that would have bested the winning 12 species. This year we plan to rectify a couple of performance issues. Our strategy is simple, we have a route and a schedule to fish waters where we feel the majority of the 25 species can be readily caught. Actually, our route passes by waters where it’s possible to catch all 25 species. The challenge is catching the target species at each water quickly, so as to maximize the number of waters we fish in the allotted time.

Yes, for most anglers, numbers matter. For me, those numbers are the number one, first fish of the day, and then the number of species caught.

Email Dave Coulson at dave@fishexplorer.com