Waters & words

Latest

you get fishing……..and you get fishing.

My fishing outings vary greatly in terms of the feel and vibe. I guess you could put most days into one of two categories. Call it expedition days and exhibition days.

Expedition days are all about preparation, and focus and a kind of determination that doesn’t go so far as to remove the fun, but it is definitely about catching fish.

Exhibition days on the other hand, are about going through the motions. On Exhibition days we arrive at the water and start wondering which fly rods we brought along and which one we should use. On expedition days we will have decided the night before.

On Exhibition days we stand close enough to one another that we can have a chat, or at least close enough that we can call over and share an idea.

Relaxed

It might not be a fishing idea either. In fact on those days, at least one of us is offloading about some swine at work who has us in a snarl, or some kid that won’t come to the dinner table. Maybe we will discuss whether to put that porch on the house, and what it will do to the mortgage balance. Its normally around the point that we have started to get philosophical that a trout takes the dry, and we miss it.

Exhibition days are about retrieving too fast, having two beers at lunch, and not walking too far. They will probably involve a stop at Steampunk for a coffee on the way out,

Michael Goddard owner of a steampunkstyle cafe

and we might abandon the water towards day’s end when the storm comes over, instead of waiting it out for an hour in the bakkie.  They could take place on a river, (probably not a mountain stream) but more often it will be a stillwater.  Expeditions are great, and have their place, but those “offload and relax days” are important too, especially when you haven’t seen your buddy for a while, and he has been up to his eyeballs in one difficulty or another. When you have waded through one another’s updates on family and work and woes, you get to the sighing stage, followed, after passage of sufficient time with the phase in which you appreciate the beauty around you.  If the Gods really are shining upon you, you might just catch a fish at around this time.

West Hastings (1 of 1)

Sometimes an “unwind, and who cares about the fish” day will be a solitary one. A day in which you lose yourself somewhere in the mist, and watch the caddis hatching.

Truttablog (1 of 1)

It is still fishing. It is still good for the soul. You can feel the pull of the rod as it loads, and watch the cast unfold over the water. You can pick a fly and take your time over the knot, pressing and tightening the abutting turns against one another with considered and unhurried satisfaction.  You can listen to the wind, and watch a bird of prey.

You have put in more hours that were not at a shopping centre, or at a desk, and it’s all good.

Advocacy

The word “advocacy” is used extensively by Greg French in his recently published book ”The Last Wild Trout”.

The Last Wild Trout (1 of 1)

In reading the context in which he uses it, the meaning is abundantly clear, but for a simple starting point here is the definition as found on Google:

ad·vo·ca·cy ….pronounced ˈadvəkəsē/  : noun

public support for or recommendation of a particular cause or policy.

example: "their advocacy of traditional family values"

synonyms:  support for, backing of, promotion of, championing of;

I found that French’s book in general, and the repeated use of this word in the informative “conservation notes” at the end of each of his chapters, resonated with me.

Each chapter deals with a Trout or salmonid or char species, the purity of its genetics, and an example of its range or location. These are locations that French visits over a number of years. What is refreshing is that he doesn’t fly in by chopper from some exclusive lodge. In fact most of the time he finds his way to spots for just a few days while on a trip with his wife to visit a friend. He no doubt sneaks in the fishing with a cleverly altered itinerary, as us mere mortals would do, and in his closing comments he mentions, without despair, some top notch places he hasn’t been able to afford to get to. I like that.

But coming back to his word: advocacy. French recognises that the future of a drainage, or lake, or species, is very closely linked to the number of people who appreciate it. For a place to have a brighter future, it needs to be valued, even revered by enough people for it to stand a chance.  In Fly-fishing terms, that means people who fish it. Not just “fish it” perhaps, but rather visit the place with interest, reverance and appreciation. Those fly-fishermen don’t necessarily have to pay top dollar, or line the pockets of the owner of a fancy lodge. They just have to pitch in with a fly rod, take offence at any litter or pollution, tell their mates about it when they get back home, and say “ooh” and “ah” enough times to be irritating. They need to revel in the view and the water clarity and the beauty of the fish. They need to want to go back. If they never do get to go back, they need to count it as a “once in a lifetime” experience that they will never forget. If they do get to go back, it won’t be to just haul in more big fish: it will be to immerse themselves in the whole experience, to build memories, and to elevate the status of the place to those heights obtained only in moments of fond nostalgia.

For each of his venues or species, French sums up the level of advocacy, and ties it to the outlook for its future.

I share his view that the link between advocacy and environmental sustainability is the very strongest thing. In a similar vein I share the well informed view of those like the late Ian Player, that hunting is the salvation of conservation, and without it, many species are doomed to extinction. The evidence for this is so enormously  overwhelming, and it frustrates me when disconnected “conservationists” with “no poetry in their soul”  like Aldo Leopold’s  “educated lady, banded by Phi Beta Kappa”  fail to understand this….but don’t get me going on that subject…..

It is no secret that I work hard to drive up the level of  advocacy in respect of the Trout in my home waters here in South Africa. I am fearful for their future. “Hunting Trout”, to quote Tom Sutcliffe’s book title, is my thing.   I recently encouraged someone to go and fish the upper Umgeni for its pretty Browns. He responded with surprise and stated that he had been keeping away while our stream restoration initiative there is underway. I was at pains to explain to him that the very best thing he could do was to come and fish the stream. As an afterthought, the very next day I arranged for the manufacture of a dozen more fence stiles, so that when he comes, he won’t even have to climb through a fence. I do so hope he comes more than once!

Umgeni River (10 of 17)

Roy Ward fishes the Umgeni beyond  one of three fence stiles donated and erected by Trevor Sweeney of the Natal Fly Fishers Club.

I am deeply appreciative of our Trout waters. I visit them with reverence, that onlookers may at times think exceeds the quality of the experience. To them I say “open your eyes!”, and I say to them now, “Appreciate these waters today, as though they will be gone tomorrow”.

And perhaps that way, they will not.

* I was able to buy French’s book online and have it shipped to me by Boomerang Books, one of the only ones I could find in OZ who would do international shipping.

A bitch called Kevin

Just as music is all about the spaces between the notes, and how you can judge the authenticity of a friend who fails to say or do something,  so there is much to learn from when you don’t catch fish.

Longest silence, and all that stuff. It’s therapeutic. It’s not about the fish.

Briarmains (2 of 24)

Bull.

It sucks.

I recently spent a day on the Mooi, when the wind blew so damned hard that when I got to Krantz pool, I swear the water was occasionally piling up in a great big bulge in the middle of the stream before flattening out again in a big noisy flopping motion, that had me feeling nervous about hippos. And at scissors run, a gust actually blew my line off the surface of the water into a pile of sticks. I didn’t see a fish all day.

Then before the season opened I went off to a stillwater on my own. I sort of snuck out there without telling my fishing buddies, on the strength of an illogical hunch I had that there would be big fish there. I had never fished the water before. There were big fish there. Two of them. I lost them both. One snapped me up when I stood on the line. The other one pulled my leader out of the end of the fly line. Bloody superglue!  Anton makes you drink when you get snapped off. I am avoiding him.

Then as the first storms of early November were starting to make an appearance, I went out on a day when the water was a soup of runoff…all deep green like and smacking of good fish. I threw delicate midges, and peeping caddis, and small “Gold Ribbed”. Then I chucked a big dragon on an intermediate line. Then a woolly bugger. Then a massive Minkie. I ended up with a minnow imitation that Roy had asked me whether I intended to use in the salt.

It looked so good. The others got fish.  Me. Nil.

Then one year I forked out on rental of a top water with a few other guys. A top, top water. A really top water. My buddies made pigs of themselves. On my fourth trip out there I landed a stockie that might have gone thirteen inches.

The other day I was out in the mist chucking that dragon of mine all day. You know the one that you can’t go wrong on….the famous one. All day.

mist

I came home late to find my family had picked up a stray dog. A basset. My son, with disregard to its gender, thought it looked like a dog that should be called “Kevin”. It was on heat.   I went to bed.

The Troglodyte

While I have previously written about the “Honey Troglodyte”, it is the black one that is my real go-to pattern on a swiftly flowing stream.

My son James did a photo session recently, while I tied up some samples for an article on the fly.

See this LINK for the full story and tying instructions.

Troglodyte (1 of 1)-2Troglodyte (1 of 1)-3Troglodyte (1 of 2)Troglodyte (1 of 1)-4Troglodyte (1 of 1)-5Troglodyte (1 of 2)-2Troglodyte (1 of 1)-6Troglodyte (1 of 1)-7

Troglodyte (1 of 1)-8

Photos by James Fowler

“On the Prod”

It is a term my fishing buddies and I have adopted over the years. It refers specifically to Brown Trout, and it is an attempt to describe their behaviour when they are prevalent, on the feed, and generally visible to the observant flyfisher.

Browns, as we all know, are fickle things. They have a habit of disappearing, both in stillwater and in streams. Their apparent disappearance is a very common cause of comments about inadequate stocking, or the catastrophic effects of a drought, or deep suspicions and conspiracy theories about sinister fish-kills.

I too have fallen for their tricks and have contributed to those theories and creased brow comments of failure and doom.

But after you have given up hope, and have phoned the hatchery for quotes, or scoured the country for ever more hard to find stocks of Brown Trout fingerlings, do yourself a favour and go try the stream a few more times.

Pick a grey drizzly day if you can, but if you don’t get one of those, go anyway.

And maybe. Just maybe. You will be blessed with a day when the Browns are “On the prod”.

On those rare and beautiful days,  if (and only if) you are an observant angler, you will see some crazy stuff!

Firstly, you will spook fish. They will shoot out from under your feet in the most crazy of places. They will be in stagnant mucky looking backwaters, and in holes under your feet. They will be lying in the shadow of a crack in a rock, no wider than you could have cut with a bread knife.  Some might just be right out in the open on a pale streambed, so obvious that you can stop and photograph them.

Just the other day, I was walking up the Mooi just ahead of my colleague, peering into the water, when a small Brown shot down the shallow run towards me, raced off across the river to snaffle something, and returned to a feeding lie right in front of me. I lifted the camera very slowly to my eye and took this photo of him:Game pass upper (25 of 26)

At times like this, I don’t even need to cast to them. Watching them is enthralling in itself. Malcolm Draper referred to the term “existence value” the other night in the pub. They have a value because they exist, and we can watch them. I like that.

On another day I was again walking ahead while another fishing buddy was below me fishing a “pearler” of a pool that I had deliberately skipped and put him onto. I was on the thin and less obvious water upstream of that, and it seemed a bit hopeless. It was a bright, clear day, and the stream was flowing low and clean over sheets of almost unbroken sheet rock. I was on a high bank, with the fly stuck in the keeper, and my mind more on observation than fishing in the traditional sense. Suddenly, from under a tuft of grass at my feet, out shot a fish of around 14 inches!

Where was I……..The other thing that will undoubtedly happen when they are on the prod, is that you will lift your fly from the water, and a fish will chase it right to your feet, and your reactions will have been too slow to stop the lift in time to let him catch the fly.  You have had that happen to you, haven’t you!

You will miss fish too. They will just fall off the fly for no apparent reason, barbed or barbless hook….it is immaterial. You will have struck gently but firmly, and you will have kept even pressure, and your hook will have been a sharp one too.  It will happen. Frustrating!

The other thing that will happen when the Browns are “on the prod”, (with a bit of luck), is that you will catch some.

DSCF3930 (Medium)

Kamberg Nature Reserve (16 of 22)

Reekie Lyn Upper (22 of 33)

Riverside lower (19 of 37)

The above fish pictures are just a random sample of fish caught on the Mooi (the dreadfully drought ravaged, “where have all the fish gone”, “we are going to have to re-seed it” Mooi), and were all caught during the month of October.

Yes. This month. October 2016.

The Browns have been “on the prod” !

…..and on public and club water……..

Troutbitten

Life ... On the Water | Fly fishing for wild trout

Blue Ribbon Umgeni

#BRU Restoring the Umgeni as a trout stream

trout on dries

IT'S ABOUT TROUT, SIGHT FISHING AND DRY FLY TRICKERY

A Stream Beyond

The Journal of a farmer, parent, and a small stream fly fishing enthusiast

Another Word For It...

...the obvious rarely is

Jensen Fly Fishing

Our Home is found on Intimate Trout Waters

Life of a Chalkstream

time is precious. use it fishing

The Venturing Angler

Base Camp for Fly Fishing Travel, Gear, Trips, Reviews and News

currentseams

Steve Culton's fly fishing and fly tying articles, videos, essays, and reports

TroutFodder

Waters & words

the limp cobra

'because fly lines are wild snakes that need to be tamed'

Fontinalis Rising

Waters & words

Arizona Wanderings

Waters & words

Fly Fishing | Gink and Gasoline | How to Fly Fish | Trout Fishing | Fly Tying | Fly Fishing Blog

A new way of looking at Fly Fishing. Fly Fishing photography, video, tips and talk

Becks and Brown Trout

Waters & words

The River Beat

Waters & words

thefeatherbender

The aim of this blog is to connect fly-tyers all over the world, to share, techniques, patterns, information and knowledge.

Small Fly Funk

Waters & words

The Hopper Juan

Waters & words

The Trout Zone

Waters & words

SwittersB & Exploring

Photography, Fly fishing, Life, Visuals & Fun

Fishing small streams

Waters & words

The Stream Of Time

Waters & words

Caddis Chronicles

Waters & words

Rivertop Rambles

Adventures in Fly Fishing, Hiking, and Natural History

Call of the Stream

My blog is an ongoing celebration of my passion for all that embodies small stream fly fishing, incorporating my interests in photography, the outdoors and art.

The Literary Fly Fisher

A Blog for the Contemplative Angler and Outdoorsperson

PlanetTrout

My Fly Fishing & Tying story over 43 years...

The Fishing Gene

The Fly Fishing Blog

%d bloggers like this: