I have a few good fishing pals who are older than I am. I really enjoy fishing with them.
I have never been able to put my finger on why that is. In mulling over why that might be, these two conversations come to mind:
A friend of mine recently returned from a family holiday. It was one of those extended family things where each family within the greater gathering takes a bungalow, and then you get together for meals to argue and create family politics. You know the set up. Anyway, he and his wife were placed with some of the older folk. That is to say, my pal is the right side of fifty, and the “older folk” with whom they shared a bungalow are the wrong side of seventy.
His comment on the whole arrangement was “What a pleasure!”. There was banter, but no barbed remarks. There was enthusiasm but no real competition. There was passion but no agenda. No one was practicing one-upmanship, and no one was judging. You had achieved what you had achieved in your life and it didn’t matter. What mattered was that you were there, and you were living in the moment.
“Rustig” I think he said. (An Afrikaans expression meaning Relaxed, At peace)
I totally got it.
Then Roy wrote me this last week:
My January copy of Fly Fishing and Fly Tying arrived yesterday. There is an letter from an Irishman complimenting a recent article about flyfishing being good for your health. The chap continues refering to a very good friend and fishing companion (also an Irishman), who travels alone from his home in Long Island, New York every year to fish his beloved Liffey with his mate. The chap, Tommie O’Shea is 91 years old, “a dry fly fisherman, a Tricos and Caenis master and an expert entomologist, impatient to reach the river and reluctant to leave it, and always keen to ‘draw first blood’”. The letter goes on to say “on our outings we each had our share of fish on#20, #22 flies and 0.12mm to 0.10mm leaders”. He continues saying it is commendable to mentor young fishermen, but don’t ignore the elderly fishermen. Keep them company, bring them fishing, or in this time of “fast everything”, take the time to visit them and listen to them”. He concludes “May we all spend a lot of time fishing and turn the head of wild beauties at 91 and more.” Wonderful, it gives us a lot to look forward to.
Roy, incidentally is on the RIGHT side of seventy
So, unless your flyfishing is some highly driven affair, in which you must know more, go further, stay out longer, and catch more; and in which you cannot bring yourself to drop a few of those: go fishing with some of the older guys.
They may be much older, in which case you will be taking them fishing as an act of kindness. Or they may be just a little older, in which case they are just a pal who happens to be older than you. Either way, get your head right. Listen more than you speak. Develop an understanding of where their fly-fishing has come from, and why they do what they do. Explore what they know, and quiz them about tactics, tackle and methods. Look at the similarity of the developments long ago with all the new fangled stuff you see on facebook nowadays and ask yourself how much of it really is new.
But more than that perhaps you will re-evaluate what it is about your fishing that is really important. I suspect that you might be prompted to consider that the older guy’s tackle is less complicated. I wouldn’t mind betting he carries fewer flies. He will still sometimes catch more fish than you.
When he catches fewer fish, you might notice that it matters less to him than it mattered to you. And when he caught fewer fish I bet he was still enthralled by the day. Lunchtime might have been as enjoyable as the fishing itself.
Lunchtime is when friendships are deepened. Its when you think about your fly-fishing relative to what your mates have tried. It is where new ideas are born, in the glow of conversation and in mixing your ideas, with those of others. When those lunch pals have been around a little longer, they have an intrinsic wisdom. They have tried some things, and can tell you if they worked or did not. They will instantly identify an idea of yours that has not been tried and is worth giving a bash.
If you fish and interact with an experienced flyfisherman over a day on the water together, you may multiply your hours spent on the water with him, with all of his hours that went before.
Such is the value of that day in my book.
We think our Great Dane rather dim, and more than a little quirky, when the only way he will cross the dining room, is in reverse with my daughter’s shirt in his mouth.
But that is nothing. Let me tell you some crazy stuff about us fly-fishermen!
I quite recently listened with care and respect, while a hatchery man told me that he doesn’t breed Brown Trout, because the Rainbow alevins, just gobble up all the Brown alevins within days of hatching.
I have also heard it said, (More than once) that a float tube has an advantage over a kick boat, because your profile is lower, and that the Trout are therefore less likely to see you. Think about that one………..
Another beaut is the guys who will tell you that in a tube or kick boat, you can turn around and fish through 360 degrees of undisturbed water. …Uh….hum. Back cast…?
You would think that most of these gems would be gleaned from pubs, which might I say, is where they belong. But no, they are just as often delivered on a fresh sunny, sober morning!
Then there was a mate of mine, since deceased, who insisted that his woolen jersey kept him warm despite the fact that it was raining hard. He would sit out there in his boat, soaked to the skin, and weighed down in sodden wool, while I watched him through the mist from the relative comfort of a rain jacket.
One mate who was fearful of over-inflating his float tube, fished in what looked like an under-filled shopping bag, with the waves occasionally breaking into his waders. I reckon he hung in the balance between floating and sinking to the bottom of the lake for good. We have since talked some sense into him!
The other twisted one which one often encounters is “all Browns only feed at night”. Which has me puzzled as to how I catch all my daytime browns.
Another beaut is the story of what happened “just the other day”. A member of the local fishing club was caught with an entire boot-load/coolbox-full of Trout(the story varies) on a water in the Kamberg. The story repeats itself every three years , and has done ever since the event actually did occur in the nineteen seventies!
Speaking of madness: I was recently at Highmoor with my friend Graeme. We were both on the upper lake where things were rather slow, I said to Graeme that I was nipping to the lower water, to feel a tug on the end of my line, since fishing has been more of a sure thing down there lately. Upon arriving I noticed a woman, hiking in a long skirt and boots. She walked up onto the hillside, where she then proceeded to walk back and forth, occasionally waving her arms in the air, and intermittently throwing herself on the ground. When the breeze abated, I heard her shouting at the top of her voice. While she was doing this, the point fly I was fishing, inexplicably came off. I reeled in to tie on a new one, and so as not to be outdone I cursed and swore into the wind as well. This either offended her, or she didn’t like the competition , or perhaps it was that her voodoo fly –removing magic was done, because by the time I looked up from tying on a new fly, she had disappeared into the hills.
She actually re-appeared later at the top dam, and upon noticing Graeme out on the water in his float tube, she shouted out a sort of nautical “Ahoy there” into the wind. She tried several times, each time waving her hands theatrically as though to a departing ship. Graeme did what I would have done, and ignored her, and after a while she threw it in and returned to wherever she had come from.
Another crazy one doing the rounds is a completely absurd story that involves my friends and I. Apparently, or so the story goes, years ago we requested a student’s discount on a group fishing week-end. Having been granted some relief from the burden of the accommodation bill, we allegedly arrived in a Mercedes and a four wheel drive, with a case of beer each, and to eat, just half a tomato between us.
How absurd! It just goes to show: you cant believe any of this stuff.