Have you ever experienced EXTREME difficulty when trying to catch a new species? For years, I had wanted to catch a bonefish and in 2016 I finally made it happen. It was my first real effort legitimately targeting them for a day and I was rewarded with two fish brought to hand and a couple other missed opportunities, all of which I wrote about previously here. I was expecting to grind it out all day but found the trickiest part wasn't getting them to eat, it was spotting them and being ready for a very fast, accurate presentation. While targeting a new species can be somewhat easier than expected such as in this instance, sometimes it can consume a lot of time and require a ton of patience....and sometimes money!
Personally, I've had the most trouble "breaking through" catching adult steelhead and, surprisingly, stripers. The steelhead thing doesn't really bother me much. I've caught them both on fly and lures, but never one bigger than about 22 inches. I really only fished for steelies occasionally, and I spent most of that time on rivers that either didn't have huge populations to begin with, or simply not many big ones. The striper thing, though, that one is hard to wrap my head around.
I simply can't believe the stripers of San Francisco Bay gave me so much trouble—I must have been jinxed! Let me clarify here and say that I'm speaking of just catching one on an artificial lure. Targeting them on fly wasn't an issue, specifically because I didn't start flinging feathers at them until I had established some solid spots and experience with conventional gear. Catching that very first one on a lure, though, was embarrassingly hard. I was fishing the right areas, my lure choices were decent to good, and I even had some guidance from a local striper guru. It took me multiple trips to finally break the barrier, and when that first whopping 18-incher decided to bite it was the greatest feeling in the world. Being in my early teens and having all those hours finally pay off really gave me a sense of accomplishment and most importantly, boosted my confidence big time!
The funny part is, after I caught that first striper it's like the fishing gods opened some magical doorway for me. I wasn't ultra successful in the following weeks and months, but I immediately started catching stripers with some consistency after that first fish. I've heard many others mention this exact same phenomenon: once you get your very first new species catch out of the way, for whatever reason they come way easier after that. Sure, your tactics may get a bit more refined as you get dialed-in on these new critters, but in many instances (such as mine) it seems like you should have experienced some type of success earlier than you did.
Catching new species is fun and rewarding. I most definitely have species I tend to gravitate towards, but I could never lock myself into targeting just one or two types of fish. "Variety is the spice of life" as they say, and variety in fishing doesn't just keep things interesting—it helps you become a better, more well-rounded angler. You may find yourself faced with big obstacles and even bigger frustrations, but experiencing as much as possible in the world of fishing is a great way to build an even larger database of both knowledge and memories that will last a lifetime!