It doesn't discriminate, it can strike while you're driving to your favourite piece of water, while you're attempting to tie on a size 22 nymph that's practically impossible to see because your glasses are resting on the mantle piece at home, and it will most certainly grab hold as you spot your first rise. At times it will come over you all of a sudden, when you have been casting beautifully all day, grassing a few fish and feeling confident in your own abilities or as you first walk down to the river bank eager for your first cast.
You work some line out not paying attention to the surroundings, and ‘CRACK’, your fly is now firmly embedded in the highest willow branch behind you and the next thing you know there's a pile of tangled leader at your feet.
As you lean down to untangle the tangle, thinking about which box has the right replacement fly, you glance up to check if the fish is still there. It is. “You're still in with a chance,” you say to yourself. Don't stuff it up, you can tie on a fly in record time and be netting that fish before you know it. You unzip your chest pack so fast that both fly boxes fall out into the current, SHIT!
You drop your rod to gain the use of both hands, SPLASH! Damn, that was loud, the leader in your mouth has now embedded itself in the gap of your teeth and is now distorting your face as the current pulls the line and your rod downstream. ARRRGH! You scoop one box up and notice the other wasn't closed properly, NOOOO! there is now a motley crew of sparkling dry flies happily dancing downstream, BUGGER IT! You yell, your inner monologue now firmly switching to outer. As your fingers dart across the water like a chicken pecking wheat, your heart pumps like a petrol bowser as the fish hits three pounds in your mind, yep… it's definitely a three pounder, maybe… four?
You retrieve the remaining dry flies off the surface as the escapees are off on a river holiday never to return, you hadn't noticed the chewing gum in your mouth has now acquainted itself with the leader stuck between your teeth and your polaroids that cost you the earth on eBay, are sliding down your nose, you stumble to free your hands in time to aid the situation. PLOP! your glasses hit the water at the same time as WHACK! you punch yourself in the face trying to stop them. AAUUWWWW! You scream, your eyes are watering as you step backwards in pain.
An optimistic look up the river confirms that the bloody fish is still there! You try and move forward to steady yourself, holding your nose, spitting out your chewing gum and now realising your wading boot is firmly stuck in the mud and cow shit on the river bank, you heave forward to try and release it, SQUELCH! goes your foot as it's sucked out of your wading boot, WHOOSH-GALOP-SPLASH! goes your heaving body as it hits the water, CRUNCH! go the sunglasses lying under you on the river bed…
FUUUCCCKKKK!, you scream at the top of your lungs!
You shoot back up like an inflatable punching bag, your waders filled with water, you are now officially part of the river. There are nymphs swimming around your socks, stick caddis in your pockets and something that feels like a baby eel crawling around your undies. URRGGHH!
There's no sulking, it's cup-of-cement time, and besides this fish has tipped the mental scales at six pounds now! You steady your soggy-self and aim a glance upstream, it doesn't seem possible after all that racket but that fish is still rising, perhaps he's deaf, or stupid, or perhaps he's throwing out a challenge? I know you so-called-anglers, bring it on! Just you try and catch me he says. Of course, any fish would struggle to get these words out through their gills, even if they could talk, but he's thinking it for sure.
A quick leader change, a fresh fly – your favourite emerger – and you are back in the game! A few too many eager false casts and a TWANG!, familiar only to those who have experienced it before, echoes across the water. Your leader is loaded with a projectile of fibreglass hurtling towards the fish like a spear. PLUNK!… There goes your rod tip into the drink along with any hope of catching the fish.
There are no more words left!
Fat trout gorge on mice once in a blue moon and no one knows how or why, but it happens and believe me rod tips break in the same way.
…It’s over, time to go home and sulk!
As you pull your sad self up the riverbank, a little SLURP! bounces off the water, you look back to see the prized trout turning up his fin mockingly as he rises again to a Mayfly, ‘speckled bastard’ you think as you trip over a rock and launch yourself head first into a bramble of blackberries.
Yes, The Fish Sillies are a serious condition that can strike an angler at any time. It’s a debilitating condition without boundaries that can leave its victims in a heap on the bank, questioning their abilities and, at times, their own existence.