The Trout Journals

THE SILVER LINING

The past few months have been arduous. Tumultuous. Down-right tough.

We recently sold our house. On its own, that’d be stressful enough, but a poor decision by me almost ten years ago resulted in an unusual situation that hung over our heads like a dark, ominous storm cloud. I suffered more than a few sleepless nights, wondering what would happen. But thanks to Amanda, we got through it ok.

That out of the way, we were confronted by more challenges. I won’t record the minutiae detail here, as these particular hurdles were relatively trivial. Trivial, but annoying nonetheless.

And the money ball. The big one. A couple of weeks ago my position at work was made redundant.

I like to write quite a bit; I keep a personal journal in which I record lots of details about all parts of my life. But this is the first time I’ve written of my redundancy. I guess because I’ve been so busy planning my next career move, and meeting as many prospective employers as possible.

I was told by a “career transition consultant” that I’d go through ups and downs. Highs and lows. A couple of days after the event, I thought “Not me. I got this.”

But “they” were right. As time goes on, and you find yourself at home in the middle of the day, when you “should” be at work, your mind starts playing tricks on you. Could I have done something to stop it from happening? Am I not valuable? Am I not useful? You might even catch yourself thinking “Will I ever get a job again?”

So fishing took a back seat. Then, this happened.

Ben Lomond brown trout

Just last week, this beautiful brown trout came to my net on a private property near Ben Lomond in the New England region of NSW.

And even though I lost my job, Amanda has hers. We did sell our property – so there’s no mortgage to pay. There are a few job prospects. Lots of consulting opportunities that are very close to bearing fruit. And being my own boss does have its perks.

I can go fishing whenever I want to.

Postscript

I must remember that I am more fortunate and privileged than most people living on this planet. I’m not rich, not by a long shot, but I’m certainly not poor. I think of the people in the Philippines, who recently battled what must have been one of the most severe weather events they’ve ever endured. And I sit here, in my selfish state of melancholy. Many Filipinos lost their lives – they had no choice. I pray for them.

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CARP-A-THON

I prepared what I thought were perfect plans for a few grandiose fishing adventures over the past month. But it wasn’t meant to be.

On the day I was scheduled to fish with Josh Hutchins at Thompson’s Creek Dam, I fell victim to a nasty virus that put me in bed for a couple of days. Following that, a trip to the East Branch of the Kiewa River in Victoria was all but rained out. I did manage to step into the river and another nearby stream, but the conditions weren’t great, and it simply wasn’t my day.

I did, however, have a bit of luck at the 10th Singleton Fly Fishing Club Carp Classic, held last weekend. Side-by-side with my fellow Club members, I did my best to remove a few fish from Lake Liddell in a couple of hours.

Lake Liddell

Pretty spot? Certainly.

Carp

Some people won’t fish for carp. It’s “beneath” them. I’m not of that ilk.

Carp are all the rage in America at the moment: Kirk Deeter has even written a book dedicated to fly fishing for the world famous rogue fish species.

All-in-all, a pretty nice Saturday morning.

AT THE MOVIES

Thanks to Singleton Fly Fishing Club, a few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to spend a couple of delightful hours indulging in the RISE Fly Fishing Film Festival.

RISE

From “RISE”, the annual publication produced specifically for the event:

“It’s hard for me to believe that we are in our eighth consecutive year. What started life as an obscure concept has developed into one of the premier events on the fly fishing calendar.”

Nick Reygaert, founder of the Festival, hit the nail on the head with that second sentence. My friends at the Club have been fans of Nick’s annual event for quite a few years now. For good reason, too – kicking back, chatting with fellow Club members and watching fly fishing movies sure is a good way to spend a Thursday night.

This year’s Festival included three short films and one feature movie. Of the three short shows (“Only The River Knows”, “Jungle Fish” and “Blackwater Devil’s Gold”) “Only The River Knows” got the nod from me for my personal “Best Of”. I even bought my own copy.

The producers, Peter A Christensen, Rolf Nylinder and Smatis Eskjaer, have a whimsical sense of humour; this isn’t a typical fly fishing film. Parts of the movie, shot in New Zealand, are downright magical. Other parts had me laughing out loud. They’re very clever filmmakers.

As an added bonus, there’s a worthy lesson in this film: life is about more than fly fishing. Hard to believe, I know, but true all the same.

There’s much more to say about the other films in the Festival… from pre-historic sized trout lurking in Lago Strobel, to the way fishing and tourism are helping a rural community in Guyana, and some of the biggest brown trout I’ve ever seen near Bay of Plenty in New Zealand.

I wonder what next year’s Festival will have in store for us?

ETCETERA

I’m going to ramble a little in this entry. About casting. Upcoming trips. Flies. Books.

~

Mel Krieger

Thanks to Peter Hayes and Mel Krieger (above), I’ve assembled some notes that will hopefully improve my casting, complete with a couple of practice drills. Simply put, I believe that becoming a better caster is a necessary precursor to becoming a better fisherman.

~

Josh Hutchins

I’ve just booked a trip to Thompsons Creek Dam. Josh Hutchins, above, will be my guide; he knows TCD better than the back of his hand. Another trip will take place in early October – this one to Victoria. Still sorting out the details. Then, the season starts here in my home state. Not that I’m counting, but it’s 24 days until the opener.

~

It was bound to happen. I guess most people who become obsessed with fly fishing eventually succumb to the delights of fly tying. I’m slowly amassing more feathers and fur than a millinery in the lead up to the Melbourne Cup. Sites like PlanetTrout and FrankenFly inspire me on a regular basis.

The picture below comes from PlanetTrout; it’s a CDL KF Nymph (Medium Brown Baetis) – Hughes/Variant, in size 20. I’m not sure if my eyesight and fumbling fingers are good enough to tie a size 20 fly, but I’ll be giving it a red hot go when the time is right.

CDL KF Nymph (Medium Brown Baetis) – Hughes Variant

I’ve completed quite a few basic Woolly Buggers and Pheasant Tail Nymphs and, sacre bleu, they’re starting to look as they should. I guess the old adage is right. Practice makes perfect.

~

Speaking of flies, I received a wonderful surprise in the mail the other day. Alan Petrucci’s book, “Thin Blue Lines”, arrived. That wasn’t a surprise – I was expecting it. I was, however, delighted to find enclosed in the package a beautifully tied Ausable Bomber, all the way from Alan in Connecticut.

The book is just as fantastic as I expected it to be. It’s chock-a-block full of beautiful photos, and will be taken from the shelf as often as I need encouragement.

~

Enough rambling for now, I guess. On to more productive pursuits, like scanning the interweb for cool fly fishing stuff.

CLASSIC

The Way of a Trout

“The Way of a Trout” has been around for a while – since 1969, in fact. It was created by James Wilkie, who later donated the film to Trout Unlimited.

It was one of the driving forces behind catch and release, which is an honour in its own right. Its other real value, I think, lies in its nostalgia. It reminds me a little of those vintage L.L.Bean catalogue covers you might be lucky enough to find surfing the internet.

What’s more, the film was produced in a spot that occupies a special place in my heart. Wisconsin. Plain as day, I’m a sucker for a north woods retreat with a big fireplace. The stream that’s featured in the film is at Seven Pines Lodge.

Seven Pines Lodge

The grainy 16 millimetre format doesn’t detract from what must be one of the first videos featuring the day-to-day life of a trout, including the many challenges the fish face on a regular basis.

I guess we’ve learned a bit more about trout, their habits and environs since 1969. But we probably haven’t discovered too much more that helps us both conserve this resource and improve our chances of catching a few.

I’ll watch this again soon, with a coffee in hand, and a smile on my face.

BACK TO SCHOOL

A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to enjoy a day’s worth of casting instruction from Peter Hayes.

Peter is an International Federation of Fly Fishers (IFFF) Certified Master Casting Instructor. As if that’s not enough, he has a bunch of other accolades to his name including awards in the World Fly Fishing Championships and World Casting Championships.

Among other things, Peter showed me that the key to a good roll cast is in the forward stroke – finish it with a “power snap”. He aptly calls this “delayed gratification”, and explains it like this:

“Only at the last moment should you snap your wrist forward and produce a power snap. The longer you can hold off the power snap, the better. I call this delayed gratification. I can type the effect using just two keys on my keyboard. A good cast will result from \\\\\\ / and a bad cast will result from \ /. Simple.”

Peter also has a knack for explaining loops in a memorable way. In the diagram below, which appears in the course notes, he describes the intriguingly named “Elle McPherson” loop.

Elle McPherson

I won’t give away any more of his secrets, but it goes without saying that Peter’s a great instructor, and I learned a lot during our session. As a beginner, if I’m not wetting a line, I reckon lessons like this are the best way to invest in my fishing future.

That said, it’s back to the park for me.

ANOTHER ONE FOR THE BOOKSHELF

Thin Blue Lines

Alan Petrucci recently released his first book: “Thin Blue Lines”.

If his blog is any indication, it’ll be filled with striking photos of sparkling New England streams and picturesque brook trout.

I’ve just ordered a signed copy.