I once read that there are four (4) stages that a fly angler passes through;
-Stage 1: To catch your FIRST fish on a fly
-Stage 2: To catch the MOST fish on a fly
-Stage 3: To catch the BIGGEST fish on a fly
-Stage 4: To catch the MOST DIFFICULT fish on a fly
These days I spend most of my time happily bouncing back and forth between stages 2-3 (leaning towards 2), but I have fallen victim to Stage 4 from time-to-time... it is by far the most rewarding (when it works out), but more often than not it has left me stumbling back to the parking area in total darkness, mumbling (grumbling) to myself.
Probably 2. But, I will say that I a lot times am just looking to catch a good dinner! If you seen the prices of food here in the interior of Alaska you'd know that a nice fish or 2 could easily cost $20-30 at the grocery store. And it is a lot more fun to catch them. And I think they taste better too!
mostly 3, sometimes 4, sometimes 2. Depends on how I am fishing and who I am fishing with.
I have a buddy that caught his first fish from a float tube the other day, and then 2 yesterday. He is so stoked he was caught in 1 for a while, but after talking him through a specific spot and technique, he landed 2 in a couple hours, the first one within 5 minute of being there, so with him, and when I am fishing with him, it was 1 and then 2 (from a tube) He caught tons as a gear fisherman, but, decided to fly fish last year, and has been dedicated to it (though I think he snuck back to gear a few times when he was alone just to land something).
When my regular fishing buddy and I fish, it is bragging rights, just between us, sometimes how many and sometimes how big, when I fish myself, it is where is the big guy hiding or if I know where, it is how to get him hooked. so, like I said, it depends.
I think each time it is sequence on any given day.
catching the first one of the day, or at this new lake, or location (finding the fish and what they are eating) or this new technique (spey casting or switch casting), or this new fly I tied, or with a new rod, or with a hand tied leader, etc....
If you have a friend with you, and you are catching and they are not, then it becomes (for me), helping him get hooked up with the fish.
Then if everyone is catching a bunch at that location, or etc and the fishing is good, that day, it becomes catching a big one, or the biggest one, and if all that is going well, then, it is about catching that one that is slurping flies over there, or that big one I saw down by the riffle, etc.
Mostly it is just being able to get out, sppend time with friends, enjoy the day, unwind and catch a few fish, and I try to learn something and improve my fishing skillset everytime I am out. This can be anything from identifying the bug on the water to a new stripping method, or easier way to release the the fish, or better way to find them, being better able to think like them, etc.
I voted #4 but that is something that changes day to day or trip to trip, some days I want to see if I can fool a lot of fish, some I want to focus my efforts on finding a beast, but more so than not I want to fish the most difficult water for spooky fish. Its funny though, sometime all of the above can happen on the same river!
I voted #4 but sometimes all apply. Catching the big ones is always fun as is catching alot. Big it's that one that challenges your skills and your ability to execute an on the water plan that give the most satisfaction when you finally seal the deal!
"I was born to fish" Lee Wulff
"There's more B.S. in fly fishing then there is in a Kansas feedlot." Lefty Kreh
" It ain't over till it's over." Yogi Berra
"Your not old,you've simply acquired a patina." Swirlchaser
I pick option 5: I just love to fish and don't care how many, how big, or really what species. 99% of the time I put them back, which is why I prefer fishing to hunting. I have NOTHING against hunting/fishing for food, but for now, it makes a lot more work and I would rather spend that extra time still on the water or on the bank catching the fish When a fish bites, be it bass, panfish, trout, catfish...whatever, I get that "kid in a candy store" feeling!