Are they splashing birds or rising fish over there? Turns out they were fish.

I think it’s when I look back over the season that I notice it the most. When we’re all inside, the heater is on and we are all just doing our own thing. My mind seems to wander so easily to that point. I sometimes wonder if it should be different, I think for a moment, no, this is definitley right.

You never tire of it, there is never a time when you feel that it is any less. That moment when you cast to a sighted fish and you see him adjust and then rise slowly, the world around you seems to draw in its collective breath as you allow all of your everyday life to be put on hold.  You watch him decide. Will he? How many times have I heard myself under my breath saying “take it, take it”, then you see it, the nose breaks the surface and he quietly sucks down your fly.

So much has been written about fishing with the dry fly. My shelves (probably like your own), are scattered with books about this one subject, and to be honest, I understand why. How many times has an ordinairy day been changed by that one fish who chose to leap onto that small emerger with such gusto, leaving you are so taken aback that you nearly forget to lift? And after those few exciting moments you stand in the stream as a changed angler, a surge of confidence runs through you, all negative thoughts are forgotten and you look at the water ahead of you with fresh eyes, is that a fish working under that far bank?

Deception by its very nature has a changing face, and I am yet to find a fisherman who doesn’t love that moment.

Deception by its very nature has a changing face, and I am yet to find a fisherman who doesn’t love that moment. All this goes well until somebody says “yeah I do love the dry, but the nymph is so primal”. There is no doubt that nymph fishing is a wonderous element, watching anybody good is like watching (as John Gierach says)

‘a moment of zen’. The guy fishing the grasshopper indicator with a stick caddis dangling 500mm below is so animated in his love of this technique that you can’t keep him down, and anybody that has been to New Zealand can never forget watching that yarn indicator moving down the bubble line in water clearer than a Hilton martini, sometimes the fish touch so gently you feel as though you’ve dreamt it, then reality strikes and you realise that he’s there.

 I think my lack of skill with the wet is more about choice than anything, I just don’t choose to fish it that often, somehow I just keep looking for fish, hoping that eventually you will find one. Sight fishing with a wet, now that’s another story, you cast out, straight away all your senses kick in. Last summer I fished an amazing caddis hatch, the air was filled with them, I tried what seemed like every dry in the box, and guess what, all they wanted was a black fur fly. You seethe bulge and you cast ahead, as the fly hits the water a few numbers are mumbled as you count it down, that’s enough,  give it a twitch, all this is being played out between the rod tip and your fingers, your heart is beating so loudly you swear you can hear it and your eyes are starting to water as you watch the leader looking for a sign.

Nothing.  No swirl, no bulge, nothing.  Will I lift and recast?  No. Wait. Give it another gentle twitch, wait, and then it goes, no fuss, no antics. Just a simple drawing down of the line, and for that millisecond your mind yells “decieved!”

I push back in my favorite chair and the moments in my mind start to slow, a voice is calling and I move myself back to the now. David Scholes once wrote a small entry on hunting, and he lamented that he could release a fish after a titanic struggle and perhaps catch that same fish later in the season, but a bird shot on the wing was an affair destined to only happen once. Those visions of fishing that I love so dearly, I know instinctivley will be with me forever, and perhaps for both the trout and myself, we will meet again to play this wonderful game.