I've been looking hard at the New Zealand section for a while now and having discovered that the xxxx River (to be confused with the xxxxx River and possibly even the xxx Lake) last year received an extra seven hard-core adventure flyfishers (who, incidentally, I would be happy to meet, although not all at once, and some of whom I actually did meet and was very happy in doing so; we had a trout-bum convent if you remember) and Christ knows how many guided fishermen (who I am never happy to meet, since it's too plastic) I have decided to become elusive and make some sort of point.
It's not that I have anything against guides, I have friends who are guides and they perform an excellent job of teaching someone how to fish. To me that is their role and once you have learned from them you are ready to go out and experience the “real thing”. It's very much like the difference between a vase of plastic flowers and life, or a women and a sock; there's simply no comparison. Sure it's not easy, but it's not meant to be, otherwise we wouldn't still be doing it. You can't buy this sort of satisfaction: you have to earn it.
I have had some amazing experiences tramping around New Zealand. Here one can still discover a true wilderness. Nothing else compares to the feeling this place gives. It's never about the size of fish; it's about being there and getting there. It's real and it's real because it's hard and because it's hard it's real. But how can I show someone who's not seeing? How can I explain an experience to someone who is stuck? Anyway, there is something deeper here, it's a shift in focus. And I'm not sure how to give this, or if I'm supposed to, nor even if I can.
“Where are we now?”
“It depends how you look”
Sean said, “The weather forecast is good (not that that means anything), it's fishing well and I need to get out and express myself: let's go to Grafham”
I said, “Well I hope this doesn't mean there'll be obscenity; I run a family website remember”
Sean said, “Bollocks”
We arrived about eight, independently, and for a bit of a change I arrived on time and therefore before Sean. Keep them guessing; never do the same thing twice, or once even. When Sean arrived he looked a bit shagged.
“What's up dude?”
Don't ask; believe Sean when he says that ignorance was bliss.
Grafham has really changed, well the fishing lodge part of it, somehow it's bigger, you don't feel that you are going to bump your head when you walk around, it's not seedy any more, the bar is a “cafe”, it's clean and I couldn't find any copies of my book in the tackleshop.
Over breakfast beans (no chillies) I mentioned the switch to the waiter, said it was quite different, when did it all happen? “About three years ago sir” “Ah, and is the fishing any better?”
I really should keep my mouth shut, life would be so much simpler, but I just can't help myself: some thought appears in to my mind and before I've even started to try and work out where it came from and whether or not it's mine at all, it's popped out and I've said it. “Sorry that wasn't my thought dude, that came from the subconscious and we all know what that means, right?” “Excuse me, I must go and serve someone else”
I have some really excellent pin fry patterns in my box; a body of twisted white antron and tinsel (Sean), with an overlap of pearl lurex. Eyes (two of) painted and the whole lot clear varnished. I have tried different tails; white cock hackle, rabbit and marabou. The fly offers incredible realism and translucency and the most interesting thing about it is that it doesn't work.
I've never really worked out why, it could be that it is too heavy and sinks like a stone. Perhaps it's because it just doesn't wiggle enough. I had a miniature silicone smelt version that did work, until it became chewed. Curiously enough, on Wednesday, which is when we were Grafhaming, it did work, not very well; it certainly wasn't the complete answer (but I think that silicone could actually be the complete answer and will find out this week).
Sean got into a bit of trouble when we left the dock without wearing life jackets. Basically he didn't wear his life jacket because (a) he is an anarchist (b) he is a reckless flyfishing adventurer and (c) it was flat calm. The worst thing was he cajoled me into taking part in this revolutionary behaviour, “Don't bother with a life jacket Paul: be your own man, live a bit, you've raced triathlons dude, experience total freedom… for a change”
So when the bailiff chased after us in his boat and asked us if we had any life jackets, we simply answered yes (thank you) and ignored him.
“They'll be making us wear crash helmets next”
“With your casting Sean, it would not be a bad thing”
The most exciting part of the day was the storm. It rumbled it's way across the sky and pretended it was going to miss us. I have a bit of a thing about waving carbon rods around lightening, especially over a large flat expanse of water (those large uneven expanses of water are a bitch man) and so Sean watched the storm, with some apprehension, while I climbed into my waders.
There was a time when you were not allowed to wear waders in a boat (because they used to fill up with air and flip your feet upside-down). Sean didn't have any waders and looked a bit worried. “Don't worry Sean, it's bound to miss us, it appears to be heading to our right”
Which was true. Things changed however when the storm veered around at the last second and Sean got completely soaked. It was quite moving really; we had pulled in close to the shore for some shelter, but we couldn't quite get the boat close enough for Sean to make the leap and so when the storm threw down its worst, I watched on whilst comfortably sat beneath some bushes. Sean remained stranded in his boat. Every once in a while I'd offer some words of encouragement and tell him that it could clear any minute and he really should wear his life jacket.
Afterwards I gave Sean some dry clothes to wear and he made me promise not to use any of the pictures I subsequently took in any forthcoming PoD
Flycasting, Navigating and Crocodiles
Last Friday I bought a camcorder and naturally I bought the best one I could find (I believe in that). The picture quality is absolutely outstanding. This week will see major new material in the casting section (animated gifs of loops forming and the flex in the rod – I now know what is happening thanks to some recent video footage and a series of conversations with Frank Lopresti FFF) and I have some new ideas now for the Stillwater section (“I wonder what they could be?”).
As you may be aware Steve has been conducting experiments with the site's navigation system. For a long time it was working just fine, but we appear now to have outgrown this type of navbar. Steve said: “For a long time it was working just fine, but we appear now to have outgrown this type of navbar… and you know what that means don't you Paul?” “Time for a new one?” “Exactly”
“And where are we Steve?”
“Why, we are where we are”
The Crocodile competition winners as chosen over the Internet by a friend of mine in Australia – cleverly she also managed to pick her own number throwing the integrity of the entire selection process into doubt. You will note that Lars has also struck it lucky in the Crocodile stakes.
Toni says, “...well, mine was the second number... and I wasn't informed what I was doing before I did it...I think I deserve some crocodile stuff... I mean who else really needs it... what other countries in the world (other than lapland) do they fend off large animals with a spray can???”
“It doesn't come in a spray”
“...oh yes, and please apologise to the other numbers... and ok, i'll settle for a roll on”
The winners are: Lasse Karlsson (Denmark), Toni Martin (Australia), Nick Mayell (UK), Stefan Backhaus (Germany), Jarno Heikkila (Finland), Dave Brookes (Australia), Lars Bentsen (Denmark) – yes Lars!!, Brian Littlefair (UK), Henning Lund (Norway) and Tarjei Vaa (Norway).