On a fishing trip to the US some years ago, a long road journey across Wyoming provided some entertainment by reading the back bumper\window stickers that our American cousins seem to have a penchant for. Humourous, clever, funny, cynical, aggressive, exhortations of faith, or extolling their particular sports, however, one that caught my eye went something like….’I am not against golf, since I cannot but suspect it keeps armies of the unworthy from discovering trout’….well, I’ve discovered something that could possibly make me want to either take up golf or give up fly fishing.
A well meaning friend who lives overseas last week treated me to a day at a very exclusive Hampshire fly fishing venue. On my arrival, there were four or five cars on the small grassed lawn, Bentley, Aston Martins, Maserati’s – and a pick up truck. This is a heart stoppingly beautiful private estate. There is no better evocation of ‘picture book’ fly fishing than this. The medieval ‘chocolate box’ manor set amongst ancient chestnuts and oaks with uninterrupted views across rolling parkland populated only by grazing sheep. A similarly photogenic river, crystal clear, golden gravel, ranunculus you could almost walk upon, scuttering Coots and Moorhens, (and not a Swan was seen all day) Fly fishing rod and tackle manufacturers should flock here for their advertising photographs. Unnecessarily cautious I walked up to the banking, keeping behind a huge pollarded willow tree, – there in about three feet of water, less than a rod lengths away there were three or four superb fish, over a couple of pounds each. I emerged from my hiding place and stood in full sunlight, at the edge of the bank, they didn’t even waft a fin !
The introductory walk along the river by the ‘professional guide’ gave me sight of more large trout than I’d ever seen before anywhwere, and it rained Mayflies !. There was no escape, I was obliged to fish. I explained to the ‘professional guide’ that he wasn’t needed, and after a few minutes watching me, he drifted off to put his feet up. I can’t imagine what his role is other than to tie flies on for those used to assistance with everything, and preventing them from drowning themselves. In the first hour I caught eight large trout, three came in three consecutive casts. I began ‘snicking’ my fly away from some of the larger and therefore dumber ones, presuming that smaller fish might be wildies. I changed flies for entertainment….Sedges, Daddy Long Legs, Hawthorn Flies, all took fish ! An hour and a half later I wondered what I was going to do all day.
If this is a corporate fly fishing venue, I would have thought that those who have clawed their way up to dizzy heights on the corporate ladder must surely feel that their obvious intelligence is insulted by this ‘fish in a barrel’ ease. They’d be better challenged going Deer Stalking. On the river I came across a Father and Son duo, each expensively clad in high quality tweed, and kitted out with top name tackle, cumulatively their clothing and tackle was more expensive than my car, – I felt like a shabby interloper – if this place has poachers they’d probably be better dressed than me.
Its difficult to explain what this day felt like, was I an accidental ‘extra’ on a filmset ? ……Walt Disney discovers the Waltons fly fishing ? – maybe its how you’d feel if you’d been force fed crunchie bars. The whole thing was unreal – I didn’t even get nettled ! The only similarity to what I normally do was the holding of a rod, I really didn’t mean this posting to be derogatory but I can’t see any benefit from this experience. I’ve thought what the young lad with his dad might have learned from this experience; NOT observation, NOT stalking, NOT presentation, NOT fly selection, – there’s absolutely no merit in anything caught. Unfortunately, what the young lad may have learned is that immediate gratification is available – at a price.
I recall a pithy quote in Bob Wyatts superb book ‘Trout Hunting…The Pursuit of Happiness’ it goes something like, ‘ casting a fly at a stocked trout is similar to dragging a lure in front of a farmyard animal who’s last meal was served on a shovel..’ he’s not far wrong.
The reason I haven’t posted for a while is because the new waterproof camera proved that it wasn’t really waterproof. I’m back on an ebay cheapie until I find one at a reasonable price. I’ll make a balancing wild trout fishing post tomorrow.