Paul enjoying a stogey on the headwaters of the St Pats.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, people ask me all the time, why fly-fishing? And to be honest I can never really answer. Sure I have some quick garble of badly assembled one-liners that satisfy most people, but every now and again you meet someone who really wants to know. You give them the full blurb! A barage of words as thick as an evening Caddis hatch, only to surface and see their eyes glazing over as they head for the bar. Their wide eyes casting a glance back at you that scream “keep away from the freaky fly-fishing guy”. Sigh! How many times have I asked myself? Why? In the beginning a lot, however as the years roll on it no longer seems to matter. I’ve found my life turning away from what I believed was my calling and heading in a totally different direction. Fishing was taking hold in a way that I hadn’t expected, it was no longer just something I did, it was becoming who I was.

What I could do though was to simply get up and go fishing. So I did.

I’d read so many books and dreamt about fishing like the pros, oh to cast like Mel Krieger, fish like Rob Sloane, re-live the adventures of David Scholes or just to wax lyrical like John Gierach. But I couldn’t do any of those things, what I could do though was to simply get up and go fishing. So I did.

When I was on the water, nature turned up the volume and the river took me away, there was no critiscism, I was free to fish as well or as poorly as I could, being judged only by the curious Platypus across the bank. The fish certainly didn’t care, any crappy cast and they would turn down, a foot out of place and they were gone, all things that I could improve on, with time.

My initial years were fraught with disappointment and failure and I’m sure many others before me simply walked away, like anything though you try to make sense of it and keep going. The hardest thing to explain to any aspiring angler, including me, was, it’ll happen, you will start catching fish.You don’t see it coming though, everything will be normal, one day you’ll arrive at the river, ready yourself and amble down to the water. Find a good spot, slide down the bank and just watch. No going off half-cocked, no fumbling for flies, just watch. And, before you know it you’ll start to disappear into this beautiful world, leaving the fishermen you once were behind.

The only question I ask myself now, is why can’t I go fishing more often?