Sunday, 29 July 2012
Full Time Fishing
Once upon a time in the summer holidays, my folks warned me that if I went fishing every day I would get bored stiff. They were wrong, which is just as well given the way things have turned out this summer, with stacks of outings having to be crammed into those rare settled days. The part of my brain which should say "ok, time to do something else" is missing. Perhaps the title of my current piece for American quarterly "The Flyfish Journal" sums it up best: "It Takes a Different Kind of Idiot". In defence of all angling fanatics however, fishing must be the most varied sport in the world. Unlike those who throw darts, or row boats, or play football as a way of life, there are an almost infinite array of settings, methods, species and stories waiting to be explored. Sometimes you focus your efforts like a laser beam on just one outcome- but an equally fascinating exercise is to see just how many different species and swims you can tackle in just one day. My midweek mission was just this, partly out of sheer curiosity and partly because of the need to scout out a whole host of locations prior to a filming session for the "Tight Lines" show on Sky Sports. I feel honoured to be approached, as well as relieved to have given what I hope will be a fun demonstration of catching coarse species on the fly. I won't spoil the outcome for you- the footage goes live on August 10th. Perhaps the only slight drawback was that the inevitable biggest fish of the lot arrived when the cameras had already departed, in the shape of this cracking fly caught canal chub: The fish nipped at a small trout lure I had tweaked through the home patch of a shoal of these fish. I'm not sure it was a feeding response, but more an aggressive reaction to something loud invading their home turf beneath a bridge on the Taunton to Bridgwater cut. If there's one thing I love about summer fly fishing with coarse species in mind, it's the fact that you always have a chance of good sport, even in the middle of a hot day when conventional bait fishing is often rubbish. The total reverse of a session at Anglers Paradise, where daylight hours were a great chance to share a cold beer and make new friends with the carp nuts of the 5Cs, but action on the rods only arrived in the cool of the night. 3am to be specific, but worth a poor nights sleep for this lovely common carp from the main lake: It's great to get amongst bigger fish now and again, but at heart my favourite fishing still has less to do with figures than wasting time in wild places. The Little Dart near Witheridge is just such a location, and I had the great pleasure of a day out with Russ Hilton scrambling through cover, flipping low casts in awkward swims and totally absorbed in this beautiful lost stream, part of the great value "Westcountry Angling Passport" scheme. For my money these are fish that defy the cliches of the sport, that bring you closer to the childlike joy of fishing for the sheer hell of it. These trout are modest in size but unsurpassed in beauty- little painted savages that challenge your skills and thrill the senses more than overfed stock fish fifty times the size. With sedate fishing on tap it seems virtually nobody is fishing for them, but what experiences there are to be had on our wild streams. This half pounder was just one of many equally striking wild browns.