Sean: "What fly have you got on now Paul?"
Me: "You don't want to know Sean"
Sean: "Yes I really do want to know, otherwise I wouldn't have asked"
Me: "No, Sean, you really don't want to know"
Sean: "Is it a popper?"
So there we were, two luckless fishing-dudes, floating around Lough Corrib together, one of us fishing a Popper.
End of the Line
I can remember a less interesting time when the thing at the end of my leader not catching fish, would have been a Viva. The one thing that saltwater flyfishing has given me is numerous hideous and yet exciting flies to try out when the fishing is slow, off-putting or simply non-existent. The Viva (a once infamous black and green lure) was a desperation tactic. The concept behind the popper was something different; it was not that I was desperate, merely uninspired.
I kind of figured that if I'm not catching fish out of Lough Corrib, I might as well be not catching them on poppers. The results are the same but the process considerably more magnificent with the now additional entertainment of watching Sean duck every time I performed a cast (which seemed to me a perfectly valid reason for continuing onwards).
It was a similar thing that led Jim Curry and I to Mugwai. If we were not going to catch fish (and we weren't) then we may as well not catch uncatchable fish; fish whose very presence was (and still is) a question of belief.
Although it may at first appear not too dissimilar to drinking cha out of an empty cup, I think that there is even deeper significance behind the Mugwai. The Mugwai (for me) has become a branch of hope in this forest of artificial Christmas-trees. Enforcing the idea that there is indeed considerably more to flyfishing than the mere catching of fish. Who amongst us is prepared to settle for the dissatisfaction that is the farmed rainbow trout when there is the thrillingly endless Mugwai hunt to be had?
Apart from boredom, there was a more genuine, if slightly unsettling, motive behind the Popper. It was this: when fish are not taking any of your offerings you many as well use the least likely looking fly in your box and as if to prove that life really is amazing (for the one billionth time) it sometimes works. The rise, or to be more accurate, the boil, that occurred beneath my popper just as the drift was nearing the rocky outcrop and therefore it's conclusion, seemed in some small way to justify Sean's head bobbing.
Sean: "It was swimming for his life… and I don't blame it much either"
Sean is such a cynic.
We came to Ireland for the mayfly carnival. When I agreed to the trip I had somewhat naive visions (naive with hindsight at least) of the visit being both warm and sunny, spring having well and truly established itself and transforming into an early and glorious summer. Someone should have told the weather-Gods because they got it all wrong.
It rained and it blew incessantly for the first five days and in spite of leaden skies, Sean somehow (and miraculously) managed to get himself sunburned. How Sean achieved this feat is of course a complete mystery to everyone, himself included. Sean said that he had a special gift for such things. And he said it in that significant tone that left us in no doubt that he thought that we should be impressed.
I too was ill prepared for such a climate (although admittedly in a more modest way), not having any particularly warm clothes and nothing that could even remotely be considered waterproof. Luckily our hosts were organised for such things and had an excess in the waterproof clothing department.
There is a techno-club in Berlin (the connection will shortly become apparent), the "Kit-Kat", which unashamedly caters for fetish-clad out-of their-boxes Germans. I have never been there personally and call it morbid curiosity if you will, but I have often wondered what it would be like. The black oilskin trousers that I now wore as part of my flyfishing ensemble would have fitted my debut perfectly (even if they were a little too short in the legs).
So there we were, two luckless fishing-dudes, floating around Lough Corrib together, one of us fishing a Popper and wearing kinky black trousers.
No wonder we weren't catching any fish. Funny thing was, unlike Sean, I knew that we would (of this I had no doubt) and I really didn't care less if we didn't. Of course I had the advantage of actually having caught a trout on the first day and therefore it wasn't such a big deal for me anyway, but my outlook on life and therefore my fishing has changed completely in the last few years and especially the last one.
I used to want to catch lots of fish (sacks of them); I was measuring myself up alongside the how-many-fish-have-I-caught-now scale and not the am-I-having-fun (and doing the right thing) yes/no tick this box. I may have been a better angler then; I certainly caught more fish, but now (ironically perhaps) I appreciate it more. Actually it's not ironic; it's how it works, at least through my looking-glass vision of the world. And I find it even more interesting now. For one thing I know how to fish poppers. And for another my pants are hot.
How I came to this was not by way of a sudden and exhilarating strike of flyfishing enlightenment, rather it was something far more mundane and commonplace, namely the impossibility of saltwater fly. Poppers, I have discovered, are every bit as ineffective in the sea as they are on Lough Corrib. And that fact broke me.
On Thursday the weather did something different: it stopped raining. The wind dropped and the air temperature rose by some 10 degrees and we immediately experienced an Irish heatwave. Instead of wearing all of my clothes (which happened to include five layers by the way) I recklessly stripped one off and fished wearing only four. Naturally the fish came on and everyone caught some, including Sean who received a spontaneous round of applause. Spurred on by this he then proceeded to catch more fish than everyone else.
And so I put the popper back on.
I am back in Coggeshall, Essex and will be here for the next couple of weeks and available for flycasting lessons. Booking your lesson now would be a good idea since I am getting dragged off to Spain in the middle of June (Olé
!). Heading over there for three weeks of flycasting, fishing, demonstrating, wine drinking, cheese eating and (of course) so I can meet plenty of fiery Spanish women… (as if I don't have enough excitement in my life already)
What the Spanish will make of me is beginning to entrigue me, especially if I wear my kinky pants.
We appear to be getting this 7-day-a-week Sexyloops thing running smoothly along and that's allowing us to focus more upon exactly what we are doing here on the Internet (selling tackle and taking over the world). You will experience some major earth tremors over the next few weeks as we reveal more upon this subject and some of the other exciting surprises that we have lined up for you.
Steve has completed the initial run through the site that, to use his words, gives us "more control" – something Steve appears to want of course, although why exactly is completely beyond me (personally I'm letting go). Sexyloops is now well over a thousand pages and although this fact doesn't faze us in the slightest, it does make Steve's job important (even I can see that).
Fishmail! (a Sean on Sunday extravaganza)
Sean Geer (explorer, dynamic flyfisherman and friend to fish, small animals and children) is writing a regular column for Sexyloops. Sean, one of the keenest anglers I know (his loops also attain visions of sexiness - from time to time), is a freelance journalist and author who among other things writes for the Economist. Sean can really write and puts my humble scribblings to shame… and that may very well prove interesting in the near future when he puts me out of a job :-)
Sean's weekly Fishmail column will be delivered on Sundays. This could very well be the best flyfishing writing on the Net… not that I wish to hype this up too much of course…
Have a good week
Tomorrow in Denmark or Bust… Will Carl find the brakes in time? Will Chris catch a fish? And will Viking Lars discover who drank all his coffee?