Thursday, 9 June 2011

Excuse me. Are you the Judean People's Front?

I managed to bring an evening meeting forward on Monday to enable me to squeeze in a much needed fix of Eden wild trout.

On arrival at the beat the river looked in superb order. Unlike many other rivers in England the Eden has been blessed with rain, much to the delight of local anglers and gardeners alike!

Although sunny the early evening temperatures were low enough to have me rummaging around in the boot of my car for my trusty Help For Heroes Hoodie - this top has not only been with me when I've raised a few thousand quid for this worthy charity but it has started become a sort of lucky fishing talisman for me to the point where I really don't like to be wetting a line without it.

There were good numbers of upwings airborne including my favourite fly of all time the Yellow May Dun. Spinners were also starting to fall. If the temperature stayed up I thought I may just be in for a good evenings sport.

I quickly took two small trout on an emerger pattern so all was looking good. They both put up spirited fights that reminded me of puppies that will not let go a of a sock...feisty little devils!

At that point, I was joined on banks of the pool by a visiting salmon angler. It transpired that he had come (several hundred miles) for the Salmon but unfortunately for him he should have been on the river a couple of weeks earlier when we had the last push of water. He went on to tell me that he had seen a really good and prolonged hatch of upwinged flies for most of the afternoon and trout had been going crazy. "Ironic really" he said "as I actually do a lot of trout fishing back home". My response almost seemed rude, but I just had to ask...."but why didn't you pack a trout rod too?" He agreed, "Good question, I really don't know why?"

We then discussed why it is that as fisherman we have the tendency to want to ignore the many differing angling opportunities that a quality game river provides. From my point of view I cannot see the logic in flogging a bit of salmon water to death knowing that it's a waste of time, especially when the trout (inc sea trout) are on!

I think as fishermen we tend to ally our selves to a particular clan or tribe - river trout, stillwater trout, sea trout, salmon, etc. Its fine to have a specialism, but I cannot help but feel that this somewhat regimented approach facilitates many a blank day because of some sort of irrational fear of the consequences piscatorial free thinking or perhaps being disloyal to their particular tribe.

We both agreed that Free Spirits in fishing world are rare beasts! At this point the following scene from Monty Pythons 'The Life of Brian' sprang to mind.

Brian: Look, you've got it all wrong! You don't need to follow me. You don't need to follow anybody! You've got to think for yourselves! You're all individuals!

Crowd: [in unison] Yes! We're all individuals!

Brian: You're all different!

Crowd: [in unison] Yes, we are all different!

Man in crowd: I'm not...

Crowd: Shhh

Some owners, ghilles and keepers can also enforce a restrictive and dictatorial approach to fishing. It may be unspoken but anglers are often left in no doubt as to what is the expected 'form' on a beat. On some Scottish Rivers getting a trout rod out would be considered an act of high treason...but why? It should be remembered that its only fairly recently that some of the interests controlling major Scottish Salmon rivers have begun to slowly accept that trout are not actually vermin. There still remains a job of work to do here as some normally intelligent and rational people still pedal this outdated and somewhat Victorian viewpoint. I have actually had these conversations. One proprietor on a famous Northern Scottish river actually told me that I could come and fish for trout if I killed everything I caught as they "eat all of our salmon eggs"......I declined!

On a mixed game fishery like the Eden (where we love our trout) I advise my salmon fishing friends to always bring a trout rod. Some do and some don't...however those that do never regret it and in some cases have had real red letter days that in their words "saved the trip".

So my advice when coming to fish the Eden is to be totally flexible in your approach and your choice of quarry and I guarantee you will 'max' your chances of having a great trip.

To illustrate my point. My fellow (and very nice) salmon angler had a blank and retired to the pub at 9.30pm. Whilst he was standing at the bar, perhaps drowning his sorrows, I had a further eight wild trout to nearly 2lbs, with some bigger fish bumped off too. I was also still catching trout after the landlord announced "time gentlemen please".

Although you should be wary of judging a good day in terms of numbers of fish, (The Flyfishers Club motto springs to mind here PISCATOR NON SOLUM PISCATUR - It is not all of fishing to fish) I will leave you to judge for yourself regarding who you think had the more enjoyable day.

And to finish, I couldn't resist this last quote, again from the Life of Brian. I think this neatly captures some of the self imposed divides that I have witnessed in approach, species elitism and attitude between differing factions of fisherman...I think we would do well to remember that we are actually all one in the same. Brothers of the Angle!

Brian: Excuse me. Are you the Judean People's Front?

Reg: F**k off! We're the People's Front of Judea.