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Quick Draw

So I don't know how to pronounce my name. “Paul”; I just sort of blend the “a” and the “u” together and it comes out as an “all” sound. I've been doing that for 33 years and I thought I had it right. Apparently not, I'm not supposed to do it like this and American barmaids seem to love getting it wrong too.

These mid-west bars are great and I don't understand the accent thing at all. Why American women want to sleep with you just because you can't pronounce your own name I have no idea; but it's very enlightened and therefore a good thing and I'm all for it.

In fact I'm seriously considering spending a lot more time here. Although just for the record, I would like to point out that I am in fact a Saint and I wouldn't dream of sleeping with anyone just because of my accent…

And the fishing is superb. I've been very lucky and I'm starting to catch more fish. It's technical – like sometimes not-catch-any-fish technical and it's fast. In fact it's the fast thing that caught me out. I haven't experienced anything like these fish. They reject the fly so quickly that if you're not on a razor edge you'll miss them. That's exciting.

I've “floated” a few times now – floating is running a river in a drift boat. The first time was with Bruce over in Michigan – but we didn't go very far, then Frank, then wonderful Ennis hosts Bob and Cezanne (I stayed in their house a week). Last week Mike and Tyler from the Madison River Fishing Company took me for a float. Mike and Tyler are both long-term guides amongst other things. (Mike manages the flyshop floor and Tyler reps for TFO – so I was expecting an assassination attempt).

Mike lands a fish by striking too quickly

My experience with guides has mainly been the last ten years in NZ, where I think it's fair to say, guides are not always held in the highest of respect. Some guiding operations have been buying up access rights, preventing mere mortals (like me) from getting in without some serious legwork, they also tend to drop in front of you in helicopters and I've met some real arseholes who are guides. Not Deano of course, Deano's a friend and he's only an arsehole when he's catching fish or drunk. So it's a bit different over there and of course there are two sides and I'm on the troutbum side – what did you expect?

Here guides are respected and it's a hard job (I wouldn't do it). These guys aren't arrogant; they're just bloody good fishermen who know the river inside out, can handle boats, teach and are fun to hang out with. And I learnt.

A fish would take…
“You missed it!”
“I haven't struck yet – watch this – damn; I missed it”
“You have to be quicker”
“Look we're fishing dries downstream, you have to let them turn down, everyone knows that”
“Not out West”

So I'd strike quicker.

“You missed it!”
“Too fast?”
”Too slow”
No! Really?”

So I'd strike quicker still.

“Too slow and get rid of the slack line”
“Slack line's funky”
Some slack line is funky, but mostly it's just dumb.”

Tyler lands a fish by striking too quickly and then makes it look bigger by sticking it *way* out

Finally I struck too soon, you know, before the fish had opened its mouth, and I hooked it, and it came off.

“Strike upwards, you struck to the side, how are you going to catch fish if you strike to the side? And be quicker next time: rip them lips!”
“Yo funky ass mother, take it down the leftside!”
“Erm, nothing”

(You've got to give it back somehow)

Finally I understood. These fish are fast and you hit almost everything like lightening. Sure there are exceptions but mostly you have to be completely on the ball.

And it's serious fun; covering so much water, Mike or Tyler would say go left, or right, point out gravel bars, edges, rocks, basically it was a fascinating experience and one of the best days fishing I've had in a long time; the learning curve was immense and it's completely different way of fishing – so even without the barmaids I'll be back.

Damn it.

And I'm busy tying up flies. The Madison is pretty much one long riffle and there is no question you need flies you can see. At least my zonkers appear to work, so that's something.

This week I'll be heading to Denver. On Monday I'll drop in on Simon at Rio, Tuesday William Joseph and then I'll drive like a Tornado (at 86 miles/hr). I'll be meeting up with Rick shortly after the Denver show and I'll be fishing Colorado for the next month or so.

I'll be shifting the days or the week around a bit and writing a lesson plan for the Member's area – so that should be fun!

Have a great week,

Just a nice sunset on the Madison

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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