Waters & words

Posts tagged “Charles Cotton

Banter, books and beats

“Hey laanie”

“Heey Larnie”

I ignored him.

“Hey Larnie”  ..he  tried again.  And then, proceeding to the assumption that I was in fact listening he added “How menny feesh in da sea?”

He had spotted the fly casting decal on the side of my vehicle, and he abandoned his task of selling fruit at the roadside to connect with me as a fellow fisherman. I shouldn’t have been so rude, but he wasn’t reading it right. Neither was PD when he replied “60 fish…..hell I can’t remember when last I caught even 10 fish!”.

“Easy tiger”  I replied.  “It was 20 fish, over 3 days, and the biggest was 60 cms”   I guess its easy to get the wrong end of the stick.  The bull by the udders. This is what Paul Schullery reckons we have done when we interpret the term ”fine, and far off” as coined by Charles Cotton . In his book “Fly-Fishing secrets of the Ancients” he says” Cotton’s admonition had nothing to do with double hauling across the Delaware”. He explains that in Cotton’s time (over three hundred years ago), they didn’t have the fly lines of today and could really only flick and let the wind do the rest.

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That made me feel better, because often all I am capable of is flicking and letting the wind do the rest. I have just been asked to teach fly casting at an event next month. Boy are they in for a surprise! 

But of late I have been doing OK in the catching department, despite going with a notion of casting only so far as I can do with some measure of perfection, minus 20%, to ensure perfection a good deal of the time.  And I am speaking here of stillwater fishing. Coupled with a stealthy approach, I have had some good fun. I won’t say I am catching more fish, but having a big rainbow take your fly in ankle deep water just in front of you is an experience that has a lot going for it.  You will be surprised how many “feesh deh are in dat sea” !   That close in zone can be a diamond mine!

Speaking of which, I have been listening to Jonah Tolchin recently.

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Some good stuff.  Including this track:  Diamond Mine  (Spotify link)

But just in case you thought I was talking about a different type of beat:  The lower beats of Reekie Lyn are looking great. Andrew Savs tells me that he and his mates were able to stroll up and fish a few spots down there that previously had to be approached on hands and knees, and with roll casts. Its not that the fish have gone blind, its just that the wattles have been felled, thanks to the efforts of a bloke named Gwamanda, and now you can stroll up to the river’s edge and scare the trout that way. 

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Last Sunday I couldn’t scare the fish.  That is because  I was obscured from their view by a layer of detritus on the water’s surface, left there by the howling gale. I was fishing a slow pool on Brigadoon…in line with Cotton’s suggestion that it is less windy there.  Pfft……!  My problem was that I could barely cast in the headwind. Cotton’s flicking thing wasn’t doing the trick. If I waited for a lull, and managed a cast, my little delicate nymph  (another suggestion of Cotton’s)  got caught in all that scum. So I did what any tactical, sophisticated fly fisherman would do. I put on a fly large enough and heavy enough that I could throw it in the wind, and it was sturdy enough in build, to break through that layer of grass seed and leaves and the like. Far off perhaps, but not so fine.  When it plopped through there and started to sink, I suddenly realised that it would snag on the bottom quickly on account of it’s 12mm tungsten bead, so I did what any tactical, sophisticated fly fisherman would do, and I stripped that 1/0 Woolly Bugger back to safety as fast as I could.  It wasn’t my fault that a big angry brown of 18 inches grabbed it along the way.

Graeme asked if I had any pictures. “Hell no Larnie!”  I replied  “It wasn’t pretty”. Besides, Cotton wasn’t pretty, and he didn’t take pictures either. (He also married his cousin……just saying….)

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