Many years later, I began to wonder how much of my life now is just the adult version of those childhood fantasies. Of course, the obvious answer is: All the good parts.
John Gierach, No Shortage of Good Days (2011), p. 198.
The imitation may be Impressionist, Cubist, Futurist, Post-Impressionist, Pre-Raphaelite, or caricature. The commonest is caricature. It therefore catches most fish.
GEM Skues, The Way of a Trout with a Fly, p. 78.
Immortal words of enlightened wisdom, kindly reminded to us by Alex Vulev on SL.
Pete on Sexyloops posted today a page from Pratchett’s Reaper Man, that’s waaaaaay too good not to share it with you. Here is goes, thanks Pete!
The sun was near the horizon.
The shortest-lived creatures on the Disc were mayflies, which barely make it through twenty-four hours. Two of the oldest zigzagged aimlessly over the waters of a trout stream, discussing history with some younger members of the evening hatch.
“You don’t get the kind of sun now that you used to get,” said one of them.
“You’re right there. We had proper sun in the good old hours. It were all yellow. None of this red stuff.”
“It were higher, too,”
“It was. You’re right.”
“And nymphs and larvae showed you a bit of respect.”
“They did. They did,” said the other mayfly vehemently.
“I reckon, if mayflies these hours behaved a bit better, we‘d still be having proper sun.”
The younger mayflies listened politely.
“I remember,” said one of the oldest mayflies, “when all this was fields, as far as you could see.”
The younger mayflies looked around.
“It’s still fields,” one of them ventured, after a polite interval,
“I remember when it was better fields,” said the old mayfly sharply.
“Yeah,” said his colleague. “And there was a cow.”
“’That’s right! You’re right! I remember that cow! Stood right over there for, oh, forty, fifty minutes. It was brown, as I recall.”
“You don’t get cows like that these hours.”
“You don’t get cows at all.”
“What’s a cow?” said one of the hatchlings.
“See‘?” said the oldest mayfly triumphantly. “That’s modern Ephemeroptera for you.” It paused. “What were we doing before we were talking about the sun‘?”
“Zigzagging aimlessly over the water,” said one of the young flies. This was a fair bet in any case.
“No, before that.”
“Er ….you were telling us about the Great Trout.”
“Ah. yes, Right. The Trout. Well, you see, if you’ve been a good mayfly, zigzagging up and down properly – ”
“ – taking heed of your elders and betters – “
“ – yes, and taking heed of your elders and betters, then eventually the Great Trout – ”
“Yes?” said one of the younger mayflies.
There was no reply.
“The Great Trout what?” said another mayfly, nervously,
They looked down at a series of expanding concentric rings on the water.
“The holy sign!” said a mayfly. “I remember being told about that! A Great Circle in the water! Thus shall be the sign of the Great Trout!”
The oldest of the young mayflies watched the water thoughtfully. It was beginning to realise that, as the most senior fly present, it now had the privilege of hovering closest to the surface.
“They say,” said the mayfly at the top of the zigzagging crowd, “that when the Great Trout comes for you, you go to a land flowing with…., Flowing with…..” Mayflies don’t eat. It was at a loss.
“Flowing with water,” it finished lamely.
“I wonder,” said the oldest mayfly.
“It must be really good there,” said the youngest,
“’Cos no one ever wants to come back.
Flyfishing is like the knowledge that you’re going to die. No matter how good the party gets, it’s always there in the background to remind you what awaits: tangled line, wind knots, snagged vegetation, broken leaders, and the very real possibility that by the time you do make a decent cast, your own eyeball will be attached to the hook. I have been flyfishing on and off for 35 years, during which period I have progressed from beginner to advanced beginner. With continued practice, I fully expect to be an intermediate just three or four years following my death.
And the converse is, as it sometimes happens in life, no less true. The words of John Buchan** ring all over the internet, to the effect that the charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope. No quote gets viral like that without having at least the ring of truth to it. The astute reader will have noticed that this may not directly apply to fly fishing, but I think it does. It obviously does: for instance each time I throw a loop, I hope it won’t tail.
** Despite quite an intense search over the whole internet, I did not find the book where Buchan wrote this. If, by any chance, you know which book it is, please leave a message. The darn (Right Honourable) Scot wrote lots of books.
[...] and we covered the last two hundred yards to the truck marveling, for the hundredth time, at the god-awful beauty of sunfish. They’re one of the things in the world that are so much prettier than they’d have to be, you have to think it means something.
J. Gierach, At the grave of the Unknown Fisherman (2003).
A couple of very good lines for my French friends today. Sorry, I won’t try to translate them. Suffice it to say they are about the age-old wondering, silently and continuously operating in the mind of any fisherman worth his salt: why the hell am I doing this? And the only possible answer, never quite enough of an answer, but that’s all we have: fuck it, let’s fish.
S’ils me voyaient sur ce caillou, enrobé de coton huilé kaki, nez coulant, bonnet au ras des yeux. Pire, s’ils savaient l’énergie, le temps que je peux consacrer à la pêche, s’ils se doutaient de son importance, de son urgence parfois dans ma vie – à cette heure tout Proust, tiens, les cinq volumes de la Pléiade donnés sans la moindre hésitation pour ce « lancer léger » de bambou refendu si bien équilibré…
[I pass on yet another vain charge against psychoanalysis]
Et d’abord cette hantise de l’eau, que révèlet-elle ? Cette fascination du poisson caché, ce désir, ce plaisir de le prendre, de le tenir, de le tuer ou alors de lui laisser la vie sauve avec une émotion encore plus intense… Sadique obsessionnel compulsif fétichiste à orientation masturbato-mystique, par exemple ?
Mais ce n’est pas drôle. Sérieusement, qu’est-ce que je cherche, qu’est-ce que je fuis là-dedans ?
— Fous-toi de ça, grand.
Rire bref, tout proche.
— C’est le virus, qu’est-ce que tu veux, quand on l’a dans le sang, on le garde !
Jean-Etienne Bovard, La pêche à rôder, 2006.
…when literature at its best flirted with fishing.
Notice how Dos Passos looks so happy you’d think he’s stupid. Ernie says: “That’s right, my hat kicks asses big time. But you have to be me to get away with so much awesomeness. Your fish is not that bad Johnny.”
than just gin. The hairy dude from Fish in a Barrel Pond went through a silent phase that made me wonder if something had happened to him.
Well, something did happen. It’s all written here. And it’s a truly fine piece of writing, If you haven’t read it, you’re lucky, click away in a hurry, there are very few better ways to use the next ten minutes of your life.
Seen on the Angler’s Culvert, where you will find the best fishing/whisky mix of the whole internet. Desperately calling for something else in the fishporn department. Maybe something involving something else than big fishes?
Like three major writers and not a few mustache.
as would the Príncipe de los Ingenios say it:
No se cogen truchas a bragas enjutas.
Which means, I’m sure you have gathered it, that one will not catch a trout without getting his ass wet.