A passion for this beautiful, enigmatic and bloody frustrating Chalk Stream.
And why I’m here writing this blog
We’re all involved in trying to catch wild brown trout and grayling, but just stick with me, in this, it is my first returning post, I’ll weave it through not only with references to English Literature, Shakespeare, and modern poets, but also classic philosophy and existentialism – bear with me.
Now, don’t get on my case – I’ve had all your messages. I’m very sorry that I’ve been away, I’ve not just been ignoring the responsibility of writing, (I have been writing other things) my lack of posting was something that was nagging away at every peaceful moment; my absence is probably best explained that after fifty years of fly fishing I found myself unprepared, unceremoniously at something of a cross roads in my fly fishing life, it was a situation that I’d not quite thought through – it wasn’t a crisis, I hadn’t lost my mojo, I was just standing there, rod in hand looking around in bewilderment.
Did you ever as a child, have the fantasy of being locked in a sweet shop or chocolate factory, able to eat as much as you want without any limits or parental disapproval ?. Well, that was how I found myself. I was fishing regularly through the summer of 2012, but the previous twelve months hadn’t been good. Some very close friends, since childhood either shuffled off their mortal coil, or were gone in the blink of an eye with no warning. Immediate family were blighted with devastating long term illness. An extensively planned fishing holiday was cancelled at three weeks’ notice.
I found myself going through a 21st century equivalent of Hamlets soliloquy, and W. H. Davies poem, Leisure, (‘what is life if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare’). An English Grammar School Education of the sixties came to the fore, and I was transported to a dusty dull classroom in Manchester, where a fearsome master stood, imbuing it with a deathly silence no one dare break, making us read and understand the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, some of which I now recalled, discovering it had relevance, ‘ find and preserve equanimity in the midst of conflict by following nature as a source of guidance and inspiration’
During 2012, a financial opportunity arose that would enable me to retire, earlier than many hard working people are able to do. The culmination of all these matters coming together meant that I embraced it without too much hesitation. The opportunity of being able to fish, any day, any time, for as long as I wanted was suddenly available to me. After gorging myself for a month without ever breaking my rod down, I stopped dead in my tracks. This endless availability that I’d always dreamed of through my business life was altering the mood of my fishing. It dawned on me that part of the pleasure of fishing, is the looking forward, the anticipation, the planning. Without the structure of a working life, every day becomes the same; I’d find myself travelling to the river just because I could, but without a plan of which reach to fish, or how to fish, that I could do this, ad infinitum, hit me right between the eyes. Trust me on this, – it is a shock.
How incredibly, and possibly undeservedly lucky I was, for there really isn’t a better place to be than having good health, sat on the banks of an English Chalk stream, on a summers day, just sitting, watching and listening.
I kind of got through it, I have been fishing over the past year, but I’ve become far more discerning. I’ve spent much time writing more articles, tying more flies – lots, Shrimps, tubes, templedogs, hairwings for Salmon and Sea Trout, emergers, duns and nymphs for my beautifully cunning wild brownies, and a range of succulent grubby weighted nymphs for the graceful alluring grey and lilac flanked beauties of the Wylye.
During all of this, I’ve had plenty of time contemplating what constitutes a good day, and it doesn’t always involve big fish, lots of fish or exotic locations. Keep coming by, – as way of an apology, I’ll post my secret fly for 2014 in the next week or so.