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23/06/03 - Stickleback Hunting

I'm looking for a third man; someone who'll work with us on Sexyloops, running our forthcoming flycasting school and tackleshop; an instructor, AAPGAI preferably, who when given challenges sees opportunities. Let's face it, I'm never here, and for many this is a pipe dream but Sexyloops has the ability to make such things reality. So if you think it's you, let us know :)

I'm about to get back on the road again. All my casting commitments are out the way for the next three months (when I have two days lined up), and so I'm free to go fishing and work on Sexyloops. So I'm going to bugger off. What's the point of living in one place when you're free to travel?


This last week I've suddenly found myself restless. Which surprises me, since I thought I was going to be quite happy doddering about the UK, working on my casting, making the odd fishing trip with Seanie. But I'm not; I'm fed up with fishing stocked stillwaters and that's all I seem to do here. Sure there's saltfly to be done – even Sean caught two bass last week – but if you're going to dabble about in the sea you may as well go and do it somewhere else. Like Spain.

I spent two decades fishing stocked waters, hell I spent almost ten years fishing one water in particular on a daily basis. Back then it was fantastic and I loved it, but now I'd rather fish elsewhere. Even in the salt where it doesn't work. And if it's not going to work, then I may as well go somewhere pretty and enjoy myself.

I was going to buy a campervan, but don't think I can afford it, so instead I'm borrowing a car, throwing an old tent in the back and heading off wherever I fancy. I may even forget to bring the map. But before I can really free up, I have to do some work on the discussion board; it needs thinning out. And I have to work a little on the commercial side of Sexyloops.

The AAPGAI page is *interesting*, so far we have one advertiser. Not sure what that says, but you can be sure as hell Andy Dickison is about to get some serious promotion. In fact I'm thinking of renaming the site after him.

Hard work

So what have I been up to this week? Well, lots of stuff. I've been really busy… there was the Double Haul series. I worked really hard there, especially in the animated cutout sequence (I may actually have a three month holiday now, just to get over it). And on Friday I worked really hard too, when I took a friend fishing for half a day. Saturday was hard work, can't remember what I did exactly, but I know I was shagged on Sunday. No wonder I need a break. Phew.

But I haven't been fishing, well all apart from Friday, but that really doesn't count, because it sucked. And I haven't been saltwater flyfishing either, but that never counts. I was casting however. In fact I've been doing lots of casting. And I love casting, so even although it's work – and hard work I might add – it's still quite fun.

I'm not casting very far at the moment. I mean although I'm hitting the distance, I feel I could still be casting further. Jon's caught up and that annoys me – Jon works for a living and so he can't possibly work as hard as I do.

It's funny: a friend asked me this week why I fish. Not that I ever do of course. No I'm just a flycaster. But if for example I was to fish, you know every day and for the rest of my life, she wondered why? In fact several people wonder this, myself included. Especially since I don't actually eat fish but put them all back. Not that I ever catch any of course. Well only the pornographic ones.

And it's an interesting question of course. So I thought about it. There's a bit of the garden where it's quite nice to ponder these things – when I'm not working flat out. There's some flowers and trees and stuff. It's quite pretty. And it was while here that it suddenly came to me: Sticklebacks!


It all started with sticklebacks. I'm not sure why I ever became a stickleback hunter, but I did, and James Clutterbug and I used to hunt them down. We got quite good at it as well, this stickleback hunting, and we used nets, not knowing about the fly in those days. We were conservationists too, even then, practicing catch and release – after admiring them and sticking them in our jam jars.

One fearful day I even fell in. It was in a last ditch attempt to land a stickleback we'd been hunting for some time. The stickleback was beneath the bridge and James “went under” to seek him out while I crouched at the other end, tiger-like, poised ready with my net to scoop him out. It was quite exciting. But the stickleback changed course at the last second and I missed him. Too far to reach, and overcome by intensity of the moment, I leapt in.

As I sploshed my way home again, I didn't know then that I'd be making a lifelong passion out of “stickleback hunting”.

As time passed I got better, and thought bigger; that's when I took up Coarse fishing. We used to drown maggots and worms on the River Colne every weekend. For a while I got quite good at catching minnows. But I never caught anything dramatic. When I was ten or eleven my grandfather took me flyfishing on a local stillwater. He'd never been flyfishing before either, but on the second outing I caught a rainbow trout. And that was that; then I knew.

Flyfishing has been, and continues to be, the most fantastic thing in my life. I've travelled the world countless times, and have visited some of the most incredibly beautiful places on earth. And I've been part of those places. Not some simple observer, but always the stickleback hunter.

And that's what this is all about really.

Essential Bush Skills

The start of any flytying good flytying sequence involves squirting The Light of Apgai on your polyprops
Both alarm and curiousity set in when the polyprops start melting
Putting the lid back on the jar to stop *that* happening again
The flytying proper is underway
Notice the composure, that's true class that is
A difficult bit, you can tell that from the vacant expression
Essential bush skills: the third hand
Notice my hat here, it's quite daring
Snip, snip
I'm not quite sure what I'm doing here, but it's cool
Trimming an oversize hackle that appears to have become trapped in the whip finnish manoevre
Delicate precision work, the hallmark of any good flytyer
A sexy catch...

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