Some seasons feel so different. The fishing is all that you could dream of, quiet hours of introspection as you wander through a landscape twisted and turned by the passing of time yet still so familiar that it fits like that old coat that lives under the front seat. The fishing keeps us focused, makes us more intense, so very aware of the surrounds as we tramp on.
This season has definitely not been like that. I stare through the window of the local fly shop only to read on the blackboard that most of the Highlands are shut due to bushfires ravaging my favourite places. It's 7pm and the bag of Indian takeaway suddenly seems heavier. A copy of Frog Call sits in a glass cabinet silently reminding me that at least one guy is out there, actively crossing the line and showing us the only path – a set of principles that most of us crave yet fail to enact. People all over the state are fighting bushfires, fighting helicopters and fighting for science that tells all of us that if we don't change we’re fucked. Yes, a very different season indeed.
I don't know when all this caught up with me, it just did. You spend your whole life trying to hopefully do better – better job, better partner, better person. In amongst it all you take up fly fishing. To most people this is a pretty random decision yet once you walk through the door, there is no turning back. Those early years are so easy to joke about but back then it was no laughing matter, the learning curve seemed to stretch over the horizon. The awakening of the soul in all of this is the most unexpected element. That change that eats away at you, keeps you going back when the weather says stay at home. Books fill in some of the blanks yet none of them replace time on the water.
The fisherman against the guide was something that took us by surprise. A very public break-up that sent a chill through us all. How can something so sacred be possibly lost to the wind because of money? What part of us is left at the end of this when it has become so crushingly obvious that once again we are going to have to fight for something that should have had the respect to be left alone? It brings me to tears to think that some people seem to think they are above this. Wilderness by the very nature of the word is a wild untamed place left to be discovered by the adventurer that either hides or resides in us all. Mechanical access rips into the heart of most fishermen who don't even fish here. The question is not about fishing it's about having a place that no matter how crazy the outside world gets, there is always somewhere that exists – wild and untouched. We need these places that belong to no human.
I seem to fish basically on my own these days. This afternoon I drove out to a quiet place in the North. The fishing is good here yet there is something else that brings me back. The sun does that beautiful thing in the afternoon where it changes the light quality, slanting down then hiding, washing out the surrounds when the clouds disappear. The flowers seem to glow and the grass looks brilliant green, bugs lilt and lift as sheep look on, fish swirl in the shallows as dragonflies risk a low pass over the reeds. This is my special place.
Driving home I thought it had started to rain. It took me a couple of seconds to realise that a massive hatch was on and unfortunately my car was creating carnage for the next few kilometres. It’s strange what you think about at these moments, I remember seeing Daniel and Greg at the local timber yard. I'd guided for Daniel a few times and we chatted about fishing. Observation is a funny thing – they seemed like great friends.
The landscape of fly fishing in Tasmania may have changed forever.