It's not very often that I get whisked away on a mystery holiday. And I think that's a great mistake and people should do it more often. I'll be honest here; I don't get enough holidays. I probably only get two or three holidays each year, and I like them, so if you want to invite me on a mystery holiday of your own then be sure to email me; I'm in the market for mystery holidays right now and it's not Lisa's fault that we went somewhere where there weren't any fish. Lisa didn't know that when she booked the holiday. Lisa said, “Paul, this saltfly being a myth; you are so funny! Now show me how it's really done!” and so we went to Sardinia – which is an island in the Mediterranean, quite famous for it's sardines, which is where it got its name. They have lots of them, down there, and being part of Italy, the locals eat them on pizzas.
And it's really quite beautiful. We illegally fished one lake for black basses (illegally because no one could explain how to obtain a rod licence, or indeed if we needed one – it's like that with Italians) but the black bass fishing was impossible from the banks and we needed a boat and so we “hit the salt”. I love saltfly and I'm very good at it and Lisa somehow knew this; it must be that woman's intuition thing. Apparently there are garfish around Sardinia, in season, which it wasn't and probably never is. Now even I can catch garfish on the fly, and have caught one, back in the days before I knew it was all in my mind, and so when the hotel receptionist – himself an enthusiastic fisher – said that flyfishing the salt wouldn't work, I just looked at him and smiled and said, “Don't I know it.”
We did some other cool stuff as well; I taught Lisa the double haul.
Now I'm not sure that I'll ever really be a true saltfly angler. My spirit is that of a trout fisher. It's fun buggering around trying to catch fish that aren't trout, and pretending they are, but I don't take it very seriously. I dunno, fish that aren't trout seem so simple really; I'm sure they're not but I love the complication and the hair pulling that trout offer – especially the hair pulling. And finicky pinnicky trout are the best. They're complete bastards at times, rising all over the place, ignoring everything I chuck at them, pretending they haven't seen me or my flies. I don't seem to get that in saltfly; they're either there or they're not, and the most likely occurance - by far - is that they're not. At least in trout fishing I see fish, or get takes from time to time, enough to keep me interested and stop me falling down because my brain's stopped functioning.
I once fished the Noosa estuary for a whole month without a take. And I'm quite sure I could do it again. It's not difficult. I don't have to catch fish all the time, but I do have to catch some. The problem is, I suspect that if I do ever see a bunch of saltwater fish in a feeding frenzy, they'll be complete suckers to catch. And that's not really what I want either.
I read an introductory book sent to me by a well-known South African saltfly expert and guide; it's at home, wherever that is. And his personal goal was one fish per day. Okay, I can handle that. When I chase trophy fish in New Zealand my goal is one fish. I like to catch more, usually, and so I rarely chase trophy fish (over 10 lbs) because I prefer to catch more fish of smaller size – I like catching six pounders for instance. And that choice exists. Anyway, Sudesh, in order to catch his one fish per day, writes that he often resorts to fishing rock pools.
Now I don't know about you, but I'd find that considerably more interesting and the next time I go saltfly I'll hit the rock pools. “Stand back kids, I'm going in…”
Now go click on the panoramic stitched photos!