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21/01/03 - And why it isn't...

So let's consider the trout's perspective.

Here you are, happily eating midge pupae (now already I have a bit of a problem with this; I can't really imagine what it's like to eat midge pupae, being a vegetarian and all, but I suppose that they must be rather tasty – by all accounts the trout certainly appear to like them), when all of a sudden the last midge pupa starts to fight back, it doesn't want to be eaten, and quite right too, and it starts pulling you, and somewhat forcefully.

This comes as quite a surprise, you've never experienced anything like this before, it's as if someone has crept up behind you and pulled your tail, causing you to jump. Your instincts tell you that something's up and the best thing to do is dash off to your safety hole, which you attempt to do as quickly as possible.

But it's just not happening; this damn midge pupa seems hell bent on pulling you the other way.

So far: this is not a bad experience, it's a pretty wild one admittedly, and you're not really sure what's happening, but whatever it is you've just eaten, it's no normal midge pupa, it's a super-pupa, and you decide that you don't want to eat it after all, and so you start shaking your head trying to spit it out again. It seems to be stuck.

Go with the Flow

So you give in a bit, and go with the flow, in any case life is always easier like that. If you were a spiritual fish now would be a good time to think about your beliefs: maybe this is it, maybe it's your calling? If on the other hand you were a bad boy party fish, you might start thinking you should stay clear of the acid for a while; it seems to be distorting your sense of reality; surely the real world isn't this fucked up? Maybe right now would be a good time to emphasise the merits of vegetarianism; if you were a mullet for example this wouldn't have happened to you.

Anyway, it seems easier now that the midge pupa is guiding you and you're not fighting it so hard. “I wonder where it's taking me”, you think.


“There's some dude in that other world up there and I seem to be heading his way…” It's about now that you decide that you'd rather not discover where the midge pupa wishes to take you after all, and in actual fact you're going to go away now; see you later sunshine. And you career off, headlong, back towards the willows. Maybe you do a cartwheel.

But it doesn't happen like that, because now you're quite worn out, and try as you might you seem to be getting closer and closer to the shape on the bank, when all of a sudden a net or a hand stops you from going anywhere, you're held upside-down and find that the midge pupa is removed (thank goodness) and now you are being set free again.

That's not a bad experience, it's not necessarily a good one either, but done right it's okay, I think.

Treated carelessly or without respect it's a negative experience, certainly, but otherwise it's just pretty wild. Always assuming that the fish is neither harmed nor feels pain. The unfortunate fact that some are occasionally harmed is undoubtedly the case, but this is not the intention, certainly not if you are putting them back, and it certainly merits some philosophical discussion. That they don't feel pain I am convinced: if I thought for a second that their sense of pain was similar to how I comprehend it, then I wouldn't fish. Simple. And neither would you. However that's a digression, and so is this:

Another angle

I'm going to turn this back to front for a second and take another point of view, since, treated with respect, it's just conceivable, in some small way, perhaps, that, for the fish (this is about to get good now, can you tell by the way I'm slowing it down?), that it's a positive experience – and I'm not being totally flippant either.

You're the fish again, you've just been caught by this extremely cool flyfishing dude, wearing a purple zonker in his hat, no less, and released again unharmed. What are your feelings? Well euphoria springs readily to mind. I'm not talking about feeling euphoric about being returned and not eaten – fish I am sure have no understanding of death, this is not surprising since we don't either, in spite of spending an inordinate amount of time worrying about it. No, what I mean is that the excitement of the experience (could this be The Paul Arden Fly Fishing Experience we wonder?) coupled with a sense of returned freedom, could give the fish a buzz.

two flies, one fish - less then 30 minutes between takesDeano loses fly 10-3

I'm not saying it is so, however it is possible, and would explain why for example, Deano managed to catch my fish back in November after it missed my fly and took his. However it may not so readily explain how I managed to catch a fish last weekend with one of Deano's broken-off cicadas in its mouth (look carefully at the picture on this page incidentally, and you will notice that there is no tippet material knotted to the eye of the second fly – I wonder what that means Deano?).

And thinking about it, while we're disappearing down this interesting tangent, maybe fish begin to associate flies (Deano's for example) with the experience, you know like bungy jumping, or sky-diving, and therefore take them for this reason, and not because they suggest food in any way in the slightest.

And maybe it also goes to explain why you miss fish: the fish only thinks “should I have the experience; it's tempting” and just pecks the fly, not takes it you understand, not so that it gets hooked and has the experience, but of course that's not to stop him changing his mind two seconds later, as Deano proved.

Finally, one should always remember that it is the fish who is in charge of the fight; if they want a hard fight they'll dive headlong into the willow roots, if on the other hand they just want to jump a couple of times, and have a quick thrill they'll come straight towards you, thrash around the surface and wait patiently to be released.

Or maybe they just want to meet you.

The barb

Anyway, that is not the point. The point is this: more people read this publication than any other flyfishing publication in Europe; we conservatively reckon to have 70,000 monthly readers. Last week I stated that “flyfishing was cruel”, which is something many people believe. I had exactly one email regarding the subject, which said “Hm” – it was in Austrian. Look, this is a subject I have brought up on this site before, and every time I do so the response is muted. There appears to be a fear to look too deeply lest we give it up, indeed that has even been stated somewhere on the board.

Frankly I do not believe this. We should look at everything we do, and be completely responsible for it. If you are unable to consider the implications of your actions, if you have ethical problems regarding fishing, then you should immediately stop, sorry. I have quite a hard take on life sometimes, but it is my opinion that if I can't look myself completely in the eye, always, then I don't deserve to be here. Think about that.

This is why I am against stocking trout anywhere apart from the large reservoirs, competition fishing, private fishing, killing wild fish (or anything actually), barbed hooks… in fact the list is quite long, but I don't wish to detract from these, since these are the most important to me.

There are a lot of people worried about the future of fishing, and given the lack of response they are right to be worried, our apparent inability to look at ourselves and to be able to say, “I completely believe that flyfishing is the right thing for me to do” is extremely concerning. It's not about putting food on the table, or acting out some primitive hunting urge; it's about doing what it is that makes us happy and being accountable for it. If you can do that, there is nothing to fear. Ever. If you can't then you shouldn't be doing it in the first place.

Now that I've crossed this subject, these newsletters will get back to normal. Wherever the hell that is.

The Zone

I'm right back into my fishing now, which is good and for what I was looking when I came out to NZ this time. Over the last few years fishing had almost become work, and I think that this was because most of my fishing was in other people's company. That's fine on lakes where you're fishing loch style, but when you're fishing rivers you are far better off on your own. Don't get me wrong, from time to time it's nice to have the company of good anglers, you get to share ideas and generally have a good time together.

However, in my situation, where I've fished most of NZ over the last decade, and spend my life fishing, you end up giving away all the best shots, the largest fish, and make sure that the other angler has a great day. Well I'm not a guide, I don't like guiding and I never want to be guided; it's just not for me either way, and Sexyloops is more than a full-time job, and since I appear to be getting back in to multi-sport, I just don't have the time nor the inclination to make a habit of fishing in other's company.

“Yo, sometimes I takes flies for the buzz, man”

From time to time it's nice, you know, like meeting people from the bulletin board, but on the whole I'm back into fishing for myself now. So there's going to be fewer pictures.

“Especially Deano's”

And it's been good – I seem to be entering “the zone”. The zone is something I used to get a couple of times each season, where for a couple of weeks or so, everything would just happen. For me it's a feeling of being close to perfection and completely tuned in. In fact I really got into fishing in the first place because of this feeling, and I know it's something many of the regulars to this site will recognise.

“I can spot those suckers a mile off. Hit it to me; I'm hangin' off the fin, Dean-bro”

So I'm going to make the most of it :-)

just some nice scenery I saw this morningThis week - last week

Last week we didn't do anything as expected. Everything was fine up until Wednesday with Mike's Fly in the Baltic series, and then on Thursday Ben went off with his Whip Finnish Tool (actually, as you may have worked out, Ben only writes for us every second week!) and so in his place I had an article by Herb Spannagl on catch and release. On Friday I couldn't upload a movie, since I was working through a mobile phone, and so wrote something for the rivers section on Traditional Dog-Nobblers.

This week, apart from Mike, I am still not completely sure what to expect; Ben's already hinted that they're making him work at University and he's extremely pissed off about it. There will almost certainly be a movie and a rivers piece, in addition to something from the land of the Vikings :-))

Cheers, Paul

Oh, no snail fighting this week – the weather's too dry.

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