BEWARE THE BACK CAST- or, More on Jean Dujardin

for the third time now, Pete Tyjas at Eat Sleep Fish asked me to send a little something to be included in issue 41 that came out last week.  this breaks the ‘more than twice’ barrier, meaning that ESF is kinda turning into a home away from home and i couldn’t feel more honoured because it’s a really nice place to be and i’m very grateful towards Pete for inviting me in.
so far my contributions have been fly casting related: the first was Poetry Grace Fluidity and the state of Relaxed Butt, the second on How to Loose your Fly in Trees and now this one about this goofy french movie actor.
here’s a preview-

“Fishing in tight spaces is always a tricky situation because casting and therefore fishing successfully involves thinking and more precisely, thinking before acting. What I’ve noticed in life so far, is that thinking after the fact usually doesn’t do much good because contrary to popular belief, most people don’t really learn from their mistakes.

Lefty’s still saying that God won’t let you cast this way or that, we still burn our tongues biting into a hot pizza and rap is still a popular music form…

When encumbered by trees and brush, cliffs, girlfriends/boyfriends and livestock, to get the fly out to the fish in an inciting manner the successful angler needs to look around and be aware of all those dumb things that nature surounds us with and puts between us and our slimy friends before going about it or they’ll just have to risk being as silly as the guy below.”

for more silliness briefly interspersed with hopefully-helpful mind-set casting/fishing tips click on the frenchman above and while you’re there, be sure to check out the whole edition for a more than fine as-always selection of great fly fishing related articles from around the globe. enjoy !

Exploring and Water Music

some great thoughts from Paul Harps.

“How much do you need to know before you go fishing somewhere? Knowing the regulations is an obvious need, but what else is required? It’s good to know a basic target species so that you can be prepared with the size of rod and fly. But assuming you are in an area with trout, do you research Google Earth ahead of time to find where the best looking pools are? Do you search the web for every fishing report? Do you go to some fly shops and ask subtle or not so subtle questions? There is something grand about exploration and discovery with your boots in the dirt, walking no known trails. But as I sit here behind a desk for too long, there is some else inspiring about looking at contour lines on a map, guessing if they direct a little stream down a hill. There is an excitement that comes with looking at a tree lined image on Google Earth, guessing the size of trout that might live in the shadowed waters. The idea of turning blindly down a road, only knowing that it goes downhill to some little creek is grand; no other preparations but an explorer’s mind, a rod in the truck, and the knowledge that eventually gravity and terrain will force the water into something that can hold fish. But also the idea of following those hastily jotted down notes or that printed map from Google Earth, down a road also never traveled, to a creek never seen. Either way, it’s a trail you’ve never explored, and when you reach the creek, you are never disappointed. Fish or no fish, you attained greatness, you became a dying breed; an Explorer.

some might start debating whether it’s ethical or not to use satellite maps or whatever other gadget to plan a fishing trip and i’ll leave them to argue on their own as i have no problems with this as long as the locations don’t get shared in public.
Mystery River X is the was to go.
now Paul’s piece got me thinking in a traverse wave sort of fashion, and maybe because i can’t help but mix up my waves in one way or another but this exciting exploring stuff reminds me that this is precisely the subject of the book i’m currently reading and very much enjoying although there aren’t any electronic devises as it happens in the sixteenth century and they where far from being invented yet.

water music TC Boyle cover



“At an age when most young Scotsmen were lifting skirts, plowing furrows and spreading seed, Mungo Park was displaying his bare buttocks to al-haj’ Ali Ibn Fatoudi, Emir of Ludamar.  The year was 1795.  George III was dabbing the walls of Windsor Castle with his own spittle, the Notables were botchings things in France, Goya was deaf, DeQuincey a depraved pre-adolescent.  George Bryan “Beau” Brummell was smoothing down his first starched collar, young Ludwig van Beethoven, beetle-browed and twenty-four, was wowing them in Vienna with his Piano Concerto no. 2, and Ned Rise was drinking Strip-Me-Naked with Nan Punt and Sally Sebum at the Pig & Pox Tavern in Maiden Lane.  
Ali was a Moor. He sat cross-legged on a damask pillow and scrutinized the pale puckered nates with the air of an epicure examining a fly in his vichysoisse.  His voice was like sand.  “Turn over,” he said.  Mungo was a Scotsman.  He knelt on a reed mat, trousers around his knees, and glanced over his shoulder at Ali.  He was looking for the Niger River.  “Turn over,” Ali repeated.

While the explorer was congenial and quick-to-please, his Arabic was somewhat sketchy.  When he failed to respond a second time, Dassoud–Ali’s henchman and human jackal–stepped forward with a lash composed of the caudal appendages of half a dozen wildebeests.  The tufted tails cut the air, beating on high like the wings of angels.  The temperature outside Ali’s tent was 127 degrees Fahrenheit.  The tent was a warp-and-woof affair, constructed of thread spun from the hair of goats.  Inside it was 112 degrees.  The lash fell.  Mungo turned over. 

Here too he was white: white as sheets and blizzards.  Ali and his circle were astonished all over again.  “His mother dipped him in milk,” someone said.  “Count his fingers and toes!” shouted another.  Women and children crowded the tent’s entrance, goats bleated, camels coughed and coupled, someone was hawking figs.  A hundred voices intertwined like a congeries of footpaths, walks, lowroads and highroads–which one to take?–and all in Arabic, mystifying, rapid, harsh, the language of the Prophet.  “La-la-la-la-la!” a woman shrieked.  The others took it up, an excoriating falsetto.  “La-la-la-la-la!”  Mungo’s penis, also white, shrank into his body.”

click the book for more on this well-knit, randomly wavy, highly recommended, entertaining book.

Put and Take

by Bob Wyatt

nothing like a grumpy ole’ article from a grumpy ole’ man to brighten up a dismal sunday afternoon. enjoy !

With the demise of so many great fishing waters, and increasing pressure on the remaining wild fisheries, the best thing that has come down the pike for fly fisherman is the put and take fishery. Let’s face it, who has the time these days to put in the hours, years for chrissake, necessary to catch sufficient numbers of wild trout to be able to call yourself an angler? Well, nowadays, with these fantastic put and take fisheries, all that lore and experience stuff about flies and hatches and so on is just a bunch of boring old crap preached by boring old farts. No wonder the kids aren’t interested in fishing anymore.

And, even better, the P&T waters are just getting better all he time. No nettles, brambles or mud, all nice green grass and neat wood and concrete jetties to fish from, no need for waders and all the paraphernalia. Your nice expensive Nikes stay as clean as when you stepped out of the car, only feet away from the old fishing hole. And the fish keep getting bigger! We no longer have to work so hard for weenie little sprats like on the so-called wild waters. Now the time put in is worth something, all these fish are whoppers, easy two pounds and up. Some are real hawgs too, over twenty pounds of fighting rainbow swimming around out there in plain sight, with its mouth open. It’s better than Playstation!

No, there’s no two ways about it, ‘wild’ trout fishing just ain’t worth the candle. I have to admit though, catching hawg after hawg can get a bit samey. But I was thinking these same operators could provide something with a bit more edge for all of us who have logged the hours on the trout. You know, just for a change of pace. For a bit more money you could fence an area and stock it with chickens. They’re better eating than trout anyway. You go in there with a golf club or two and pay for a limit of, say, five. You don’t want it too big an area, because you’d never get a good swing at them, and of course you’d have to think about the disabled, maybe have wheelchair access.

Anyway, that would really get the blood running, so to speak, don’t ya think?. Good aerobic exercise, too, for the heart or whatever. There’d be all the same really interesting stuff about tackle and tactics, just like fishing. You know, what action you prefer, swing weight and so forth. No end of fun. And hey, if it caught on, which I’m sure it would, you could graduate to ‘big game’ – have an area stocked with pigs or something. Use a range of hammers. Sporting stuff, say 1.5 pound ballpean for light corner work, and heavy sledges for long range. You could have a weight class competition.

You can imagine the chat around the artificial campfire up at the lodge. “Man, that last one was a real stonker. I was going too light, definitely. Struck too hard and he broke me. I know where he’s hiding though. I’ll sneak up on him at dusk with the post maul.” 
Best yet, who doesn’t prefer BBQ ribs to fish farm trout? If you get a big bag, you could donate the catch to charity, hospitals and old folks homes and such, who are probably getting mighty sick of rainbow trout by now…

i feel better now, thanks for allowing me to share this Bob.


go on, say that it’s about living in a world where we want everything and everything happening at the same time and i’m just a sucker like almost everyone else but, fly fishing, at least when we’re fishing is mostly about looking down.
sure, we’ll look around for casting obstacles and such and check our back cast (you better !) but most of the time is spent staring into the water, tracking our flies, looking for natural bugs or baitfish and trying to not fall in by sliding on round-slimy rocks and logs and shit.

on the other hand, if we had something like this:

behind-the-head-vision (and a built-in super-duper telescope) we could enjoy observing the whole Universe while doing the things we love and still catch a few fish.
maybe one day…

“And I won my division,” he said. “It’s the over 60, gray hair, profuse grey chest hair, paralyzed from the chest down, colostomy and urine bag carrying, lung cancer division. You have to use a bamboo fly rod, 2-pound test line and dry fly only.”

old farts fishing

gotta admit, it’s always charming to see old farts stream-side.

semi-cheerfull, flaccid and reminiscent in their own special geriatric way they’re always good for a laugh or two but more than that they remind me of what’s coming up next.
i, we, can chose to see that as an inevitable miserably depressing fact or, maybe that certain activities during our ‘working age’ should be pushed away for the sake of being waterside instead of at work so, thanks, your mumbling words hit home.

today’s lovely quote comes from Passion, controversy and rain at America Cup fly fishing tournament
i actually abhor competition fishing but it’s still a nice read, specially the old fart part.

hey Papa !

i usually have this unwritten rule of not writing about my personal life. it’s not like i have anything to hide or feel bad about, it’s just that i don’t find it all that interesting and tend to live for the future and sort of forget the past. having grown up in the cold war, hippy era, Vietnam war, rock and roll, punk and you-name-it whatever other events since the 60’s that have encouraged people to rethink established ways of thought has also taught me that rules are meant to be not necessarily broken, but a little bending now and again seems to keep things fresh. maybe digging up the past is a way of  finding some sort of roots where i don’t really have any. maybe, but this isn’t about me. it’s about my dad.

he started off his teen years as a keen airplane model maker. he specialized in gliders and won national titles in both the construction and flying events. his father was the president of the local amateur airplane club so, the logical step was to move on to a bigger scale and make planes both with and without engines, and fly them from inside instead of on the ground. he was really good at this and also won many events. designing and making planes, pylon races, altitude and speed records, endurance and etc, and etc, and etc.
i can’t remember if it was at age 16 or 18 but he made sure to pass his pilot’s exam on his birthday. he was eager to fly on his own.

dad&chick planeridebringing some chick for a ride. it’s still one of the better ways to score.

a bit later my grandfather crashed his plane into a mountain peak and family obligations brought him back to earth and forced him to seek out more terrestrial occupations.
he wasn’t into fishing or hunting or any other outdoors activities.
outdoors, i guess, was a place where barbecues and picnics with friends and family would happen. we’d go there regularly but in a way, these outings where mostly based around the cooler. in order to keep some sort of sanity in this young boy’s mind, i always had a rod and reel stashed away in the car, just in case these outings happened near water. they usually did and these where wonderful opportunities to discover on my own all these countless treasures that laid between the cooler and the shoreline.
i often read odes to dads that have shown their offspring the ins and outs and ways of nature and i used to think i should be envious of those lucky people but i wasn’t. my papa didn’t know much about trees and animals and soil and water but he did know about the things above. every single cloud had a name and so did each star.
as fishers, we spend most of our time looking down and this early upwards apprenticeship brought a balance to my vision of life in general and maybe mostly of the outdoors.

his name was Bernard and he died when i was 22. i had worked out long before that, that death was just part of life so in a sense, even with the big empty space left, it wasn’t such a big deal. at one point or another it’s supposed to happen. besides, people only really die when they’re forgotten. i obviously won’t forget him but maybe these few words will help that from happening with those who weren’t so close to him.

papa&methe two of us, 1962

today, August 2nd is his birthday. i wish i could have known him better but wishes don’t always come through. i’m still looking up papa.

Worms, Salmon Eggs, Marshmallows, Erin and S’mores

by Erin Block via MidCurrent

It’s about tying nice flies…
FlyDesigner-1 by Erin Block

but maybe s’more than fly tying, it’s about love.
the love of doing something oneself, of giving it ‘that special touch’, of adding a bit of your personality; what some may refer to as ‘soul’ to everything you do to make every moment, your moment. of not doing good but of doing nice.
personally, i’ll add an extra layer of chocolate to my S’mores so the marshmallow goo is completely surrounded by the good stuff. after the tenth or so i might keep the same inner configuration and work on the crust volume by adding another layer of chocolate on top (and bottom) of each cracker and then add another cracker top and bottom as crust.
a sandwich within a sandwich…

’nuff said. here’s Erin’s top cracker-
“Once upon a time, in a world not as very far away as we like to think, we had to tie our own flies. Just like we had to grow our own food and build our own homes. And we did these things, and they were hardy and served us well. There was no online ordering, no fly shop bin of options, no grocery store or butcher. You did it yourself because you had to. And sometimes life still requires of us that we take up the slack and drive like we know where we’re going—there will be time for looking at the map when you’re lost.  As I often feel, discouraged, sitting at my tying desk.”

and here’s the bottom one-
“One of the things that sticks with me is not the catching, not the fish.  Rather, it’s watching a new fly tied the night before swim lucidly through a backcountry lake, never ceasing to make me feel like a kid again, surprised by the fact that it works. Casting out I do it again, but only for myself, not for the trout. Because it’s not about not half-assing it.  It’s about tying nice flies.”

CrumplerCricket2 by Erin Block

if you liked the crunchy parts, click either pick for the soft, delicious, creamy filling.
enjoy !

How to be a happier fly casting instructor.

(And make your students Happier !)




by César de la Hoz – FFF-MCCI Madrid, Spain
translation and text editing: Marc Fauvet
from the Federation of Fly Fishers – The Loop spring 2012

After the first approach on the happiness of the fly fisher, we need to talk about another important character in this equation, the fly casting instructor. Why? Because the fly fisher speaks with himself, he only has to care about his own happiness. The instructor also talks with others so he is responsible for the happiness of his pupils for a time of their lives. To achieve this goal is a huge responsibility.
How many of you remember a very good teacher? All of you, for sure. How many of you remember a bad one? All of you, for sure. And what kind of emotions bring back these memories? Of course, you are the one to answer these questions, but I can imagine… Happiness or sadness. I choose the first one, so I chose the teacher of the first question, the one who woke up good vibrations. This is the key as a Casting Instructor: If you want to be one of the best CI or MCI, you need to transmit happiness with a fly rod in hand.


One of the most interesting discussions there is in the fly casting world. One in which you have to choose, Are you an engineer? Are you a poet? You can find this kind of conversation today on a river bank, a fly casting course or during a demo in a fly fishing fair. You can find a lot about fly casting physics in forums, boards, threads… And yes, people like to be a fly casting instructor “engineer”. This probably makes you cool and attractive in the casting field but not to woman because woman want happiness. Just joking: All Human beings want happiness.
And on the other hand we have the poets, these days underestimated. Oh man!, if you´re a “poet” casting instructor its because you´re no good in physics and hide yourself under the wings of assonance, rhymes, sonnets and stuff like that. In fact, Mel Krieger talked about poet and engineers at a moment when almost no one knew about fly casting physics (well may be Alejandro Viñuales did…) but today things are different, so now we need to redefine these terms.
My purpose is to create a new word, one word derived from two: poet and engineer. Maybe a casting instructor is a POETEER, half poet and half engineer. Lets try.


Do you remember Super Grover in Sesame Street? Hey I´m from mid 70´s! A Poeteer is like Super Groover. Neither an engineer, neither a poet but what does he do? He tries to make people happier. That´s it. So, a Poeteer has to create happy fly fishers, helping them to improve their skills and helping them to cast better. That´s all. Why? Because to be a happier fly fisherman is to be a successful fly fisherman. And here is where a Poeteer appears, like Super Grover, solving problems. The problem is not to be a poet or to be an engineer, the problem to solve is to teach properly.

One example: when you read a self-help book, most of the time this book tells you what you have to do, instead how to do it. Well, I´m going to try to give you some tips on how to make people happier while instructing.

There are three ways to get something: aggressive, assertive and passive. And there is one option in which we can manage this in the correct way: communication. We are beings who speak. Casting instructors are most of the time, beings who speak. We transmit knowledge by telling, not only demonstrating. And this communication has two forms: communicating technical issues (engineer) and communicating and understanding emotional issues (poet). Et voilà: POETEERS.
Remember: We learn much more by dealing with feeling and emotional issues than by memorizing technical data. If you feel the cast you will improve the cast. You can read all about physics on Google but never improve your casting. So MCI´s you need to understand and transmit what a pupil needs before technical issues. Even, when you need to talk about fly casting physics, you need to create a good rapport, a good connexion between the pupil and you. You need to be assertive, instead of passive or aggressive.

An aggressive communicator only thinks of his own interest, talking from his own knowledge and giving no attention to interest of the other. An instructor like this normally talks in this manner:
Pupil: I have to cast from 11 to 2?
Instructor:You have to do it this way: Accelerate to a stop, you need angular acceleration until RSP. Clocks and watches are only to give you the time and nothing more.

A Passive communicator pays almost no attention to his own knowledge, has a lot of doubts and has no trust in himself. Something like this:
Pupil: I have to cast from 11 to 2?
Oh yes…. 11 to 2, normally we need to do these movements to put the fly in the ring. Yes 11 to 2.

An assertive communicator pays attention to his own interest but also in the interest of the other. Trying to put both together and looking for empathy, also he asks some questions to get the job done.
Pupil:I have to cast from 11 to 2?
Yes you can. But do you think that there are other ways to do it?
Yes, of course.
And in how many ways can you do it?
May be between 10 to 3 or 10 to 2.
Perfect ! As you said you have different options to cast a fly and now you understand that you have to adapt your casting stroke to the different situations you have on the river.

Just by asking someone: In how many ways can you do something? you´re opening up their mind. This is crucial. This is the beginning of the learning process because you’re turning it into something mutual, not unidirectional. It´s a big difference. This kind of communication builds trust and generates positive emotions. In this way the pupil trusts the instructor, not only about the instructor’s knowledge but because it links the pupil to the process of learning. Someone involved is someone who pays more and better attention.

Aggressive communicators are very common in schools, companies, clubs… in life. There are a lot of teachers telling others what they have to do and how they have to do it. This makes people that learn from fear, not from responsibility and it normally kills creativity, something essential in fly casting. It also kills the “flow”. Being aggressive is a kind of style that has benefits on a short-term basis because it gives one a sense of control over a situation. But in long-term it generates rejection because the pupil dislikes this impersonal selfish style. The same thing happens with the passive instructor,  it generates unease towards the pupils through lack of empathy and distrust. So, try to be assertive, but you have to work at it, it´s not easy. Some readers now are telling themselves : Hey I´m very assertive ! And I ask them: Do you really think so? Let´s try some questions to find out:

How many times do you ask a question before you explain what to do? How many times do you ask, “Hey how do you feel today?” Instead of: “Come on, hurry up, we´re waiting for you, it´s time to go…” To make changes in the way you express yourself you need to make some little changes in the way you think. If you´re on the bank of the river before you start fishing and the guide asks you: “This river is amazing, How do you feel?” Your thoughts will be happy. You will take a look around and feel comfortable in this amazing place because the happiness runs into your organism in form of beta endorphins. They produce a state of general wellbeing and are released in pleasurable situations like laughter, sex and physical exercise and that’s what fly fishing all about: casting a fly is a form of exercise. So if exercise releases beta endorphins, don´t create through communication a bad and stressed situation telling something like: “What an ugly day, it´s raining again.” Do the opposite, stimulate this wellbeing.


It´s important to know that there’s a big difference between having good communication strategies and being courteous. Courtesy is the demonstration or act that manifests the attention, respect and affection that someone else has. Empathy is the mental and emotional identification of a subject with the mood of another. As an instructor to emphasize is to go far beyond courteous.
Do you like photography? There are three basic terms in photography that will maybe help you understand this: Depth of field and sharpness and reframe. It is essential to add depth of field to our communication, as well as it´s necessary in a photograph to see a larger area. Also you need sharpness in your language, not only in the way you talk about casting mechanics, but also about what the student needs to know. And of course you need to reframe because when we talk, we transmit a unique perspective. Try to see the perspective of your pupil. This will make yourself closer, easier to understand and sympathetic.

To be a poeteer, try to enhance these four basic thoughts when teaching:

1. Casual thinking: Is the ability to determine where the problem is and formulate it. Those who do not have these thoughts tend to attribute their problems to others: “This pupil is very difficult” “This group is very unbalanced, it’s impossible to teach them”, “They don´t pay attention, they don’t´want to learn”.

2. Alternative thinking: Is the ability to generate as many solutions as possible once the problem is formulated. The people who lack these thoughts and don´t know where to find them often seek a unique solution like: “Do this in that way” “Don´t try to cast like that” “This is the only solution”.

3. Perspective thinking: Is the ability to put oneself in another, it stems from selflessness. Aggressive instructors have great difficulties in putting themselves into others. It’s the hardest to achieve.

4. Consequential thinking: Is the ability to foresee the consequences of acts and speech.

Remember that not to be a good one but only to be one, you don´t need to be an engineer or a poet to be an instructor. Knowing a lot about casting dynamics doesn´t make you an excellent teacher and neither does certification. To be a good instructor is to practice good educational skills and to work on these abilities and thinking. I have told you four, but you can find a lot more inside of yourself if you ask yourself the correct questions: What can I do to make my students feel better? In how many ways  can I do it? Is my communication as good as I need to teach properly? How can I control my frustration when a pupil don´t understand what I´m talking about? What are the best ways to explain physics?… These are only a few.

Nowadays, as an instructor you need to know the basics of fly casting of course, but if you don´t know how to transmit those basics properly, technical teaching will be very difficult to achieve.
So first of all, you need to know exactly where the problem is and develop a strategy.
Then you need to add different solutions to fix it, not only one. If you give only one solution, the pupil can either do it or not. You only have a 50% chance of success. This is hazardous at best.
Of course you’ll need perspective thinking, this is essential. If your student does not understand you it’s because you didn´t explain yourself properly, not because he or she does not know how to understand what you are saying.
So, ask questions, and not so many: “You have to…” “You should do…”. A good poeteer, a good instructor, is an open minded communicator. This makes consequences easier to assume and make yourself happy as an instructor and your students happier because they not only learn about fly casting, they see that they have the ability to improve, are confident and of course they will see better loops when they’re casting. And this is priceless.

Sometimes I get very tired of seeing teachers who only put attention in technical stuff, leaving in the background the personal needs of those who want to learn. This classical way of teaching must be broken by putting more attention towards the happiness of the pupil, on his emotions, on his objectives. Remember: All challenges overcome with satisfaction will leave a satisfying emotional footprint which eases the challenges ahead. This makes us happy. However, when we keep in our mind the memory of a failure when facing a new challenge, the feeling is so negative that future problems seem to be second to none. This makes us unhappy.

If you leave a satisfying emotional footprint on your pupils, make sure that they will be motivated to continue on the way, looking for more. If not, they might give up. So, what are you waiting for? Make your pupils happier:
1. Not only be correct, emphatic and,
2. go beyond your typical way of teaching and put your attention foremost on the person, not just in physics, casting errors or tailing loops.

As an MCI I owe much to those who are investigating casting physics and deliver this knowledge for free on forums. I want to say thanks to all of them. I´m trying to participate in that effort by providing knowledge on how to improve teaching. Cooperation makes us happy, no doubt. So, remember:

To be a happier fly casting instructor, is to be a successful fly casting instructor.


Putting back the rocks.

by Roy Christie

this piece has always been one of my favorite reads.
it’s about not giving up, finding solutions, hard work and making a little part of the world a little better. and it’s not just about fishing.
i contacted Roy years ago to ask him if i could translate this to french and he was immediately enthusiastic about the project and project it turned out to be. this was my first rather extended translation and it wasn’t about just exchanging one word for another, but getting the tone and meaning to do justice to the original. given the feedback from all the different francophone forums and groups i shared it with, it seems like it worked.
here, in it’s entirety and in english, let’s put back a few rocks.

” When I was growing up, a hundred yards from the nearest trout stream, I led a sheltered life. I was, however, educated to some extent in conservation and wildlife; bred bantams, ducks and pheasants for their moults, made my own flies by hand and used them on the small stream at the bottom of the field. My library consisted of Skues, Hanna, Stewart and Pritt. The world was very small; tractors more common than motor cars.

The river trickled past wellington boots in the wider parts in summer. We had competitions to jump across and as we got older we would succeed. After snow melt or heavy rain she would burst her banks and come up the field, banking up behind the little bridge, rising maybe twelve feet; a torrent in the fields.

She drains a bogland of about ten square miles and about twenty square miles of farmland with woodland and lakes. She rises fast and runs off slowly, draining those lakes and bogs.

When we went off to fish the falling spates our mothers worried, but we knew the right holes through the hedges so we all came back intact, all with bags of fish, taken on worm or fly. Between spates the fishing was different. Some of the lads reckoned the trout only came into the river during a flood, though where they went to between times remained a mystery. Fishing downstream wet fly on a small stream, with a total ignorance of fieldcraft, the mystery remained unsolved for many seasons. Fieldcraft came later. Little olives and midges covered the water and filled the air. I learned that if you sat still behind the fish they would come to ignore your human presence. Later we learned to use the upstream approach and would come up from behind, keeping low, unseen.

One day in early summer I was going down to the bottom bridge to fish the mile back toward home. I noticed that the neighbour downstream had a new digger. Yellow and shining, the dragon posed at the bottom of the field. I carried on downriver to chat with the owner who would pay us to help with haymaking and picking spuds. George was feeding his animals if the acoustic fuss were to be believed. When I finished giving him a hand and the din had subsided, I learned from George that the new machinery was there courtesy of the River Authority; sent to clean out the riverbed and relieve the flooding.

Devastated! They were going to kill the stream.

It started on the Monday above the second bridge. By the time I got back from school – I carried on unto the next stop to get an aerial view from the bus – the dragon had eaten about a hundred yards and was attacking a rock face above the ledge which it had just chopped out. The walls were tapered mud and the bottom was flat.

I went home and passing up, for the time being at least, a choice of four shotguns, picked out my seven and a half foot fly rod. Putting up a team of three spiders at two foot intervals – a Greenwell’s on point, black spider on dropper and an orange partridge – I proceeded downstream to face the dragon. I was so angry I did not cry.

Arriving at the scene of devastation and corruption, I strayed so close that the dragon had to stop. A few minutes of respite for the stream ensued. The respite was brief. The digger driver asked me if I had a death wish as I had come way too close; then he realised what the problem was. We had a bit of a chat.

John was a salmon fisher. He tried his best to console me with some strange logic. John’s job was to dredge almost two miles of river, my house being halfway along the proposed canal. The new course was to take away the winter rains at an improved pace. The work was subject to inspection by the Authority and, if deemed satisfactory, John would get paid. He said there was little point in cutting rock to make the new course, so when he hit bedrock he would leave a little waterfall. Also where possible he would follow the original streambed. As he passed he left a pile of rubble, rocks, weed, larvae and eggs four feet high on one bank. The inspector should be delighted.

John explained that he was not killing any trout. They were frightened off by the machinery and ran off in front of it. He told me to catch as many fish as possible in the pools upstream of his work every evening and to drop them over the ledge into the newly cut river. This proved relatively simple, as any trout upstream of the digger had been hiding under rocks all day developing an appetite. Every evening we would catch trout up to a huge ten ounces, rarely more, and transport then downstream, where they could get safety in natural surroundings. We probably moved three hundred in a couple of weeks. After that, cutting through gravel and bog, John said let them fall over or get driven upstream.

It proved, in the end, that the driver of the dragon was one of the good guys. John did a neat job. I have only recently, over thirty years later, come to realise that in showing me how to rebuild the pools, he made me his co-conspirator and his right hand man in restoration. I had never thought of it like that before.

Progressing upstream, he made sure to leave a few good-sized boulders alongside the banks. He even managed to find a couple of invisible rock faces, coinciding with a tree hanging over a bend – just a couple. He followed the bends of the old river. He told me that when the work was completed the stream would be good for drainage for twenty years, but that it would eventually silt up again. He also told me that, if I wanted to prolong its longevity, I should make the stream clean herself.

John explained that a good trout stream rushes around without really going anywhere, except slowly to the next pool. A sprinkling of boulders, placed strategically on the streambed, could divert the water just about anywhere you wanted. Like before a drop into a pool or above a bend – placing a boulder on the outer edge of the stream would divert the water, speed it up, aerate it and force it to scour out a hole behind and downstream Another rock in front of this would protect the bank from erosion – so build a wall. Make sure the boulders are secure against the heaviest flood. Put a dozen boulders where the neck of the pool is to be and this will reinforce the pools above and below. Let the torrent do the work for you. Nature will recreate the environment. You do the planning.

Installing rocks in the pools that form has to be done with care. The rocks have to be big enough to remain stable in severe flood; yet not be so large as to overpower the stream at low water. You are after all trying to create the perfect fishery. Slabs about two feet across and a foot deep are a great help, any length over a couple of feet is good. Drop them into the river at a point above where you want to place them and the current will help you get them home. As you go, put in stepping-stones so that you have the best places to stand and cast a line up into the pools you create. You do not want to build a great holding area with nowhere to stand and fish it; nor do you need a tree behind the best casting spot.

When dealing with a length that is straight and flat, you need to build the neck and tail of the pool, then go upstream and do it again. Use boulders to stagger the flow, trying to divert it right and left, to and fro, over the rocks. In time the tail of the pool will silt up and the neck will get deeper. I found that the best pool is about three times as long as it is wide. Depending on the flow, you may see this differently. For the neck/tail area I used rocks about a foot across -combined with a few bigger slabs to stand on.

In detailing the structure of the riverbed, you can define the holding areas for the fish. Knowing where you want them to sit you make that spot the best in the pool, so you can approach it blind and catch them – on a good day. You need to provide good cover for the trout. One way to achieve this is to place good sized boulders just out from the bank. This will force the flow to speed up, erode the bank and provide shadow and a slack which will silt up and support life, weed and fish food. By providing areas of slack and turbulence you will create an environment capable of supporting a diversity of life. Thereafter you wait and will find midges, later the mayflies, caddis flies, beetles etc will come back because the headwaters and downstream areas still harbour the native species. We are talking massive destruction here – not pollution. We still have to look to the powers above to protect against that.

The digger finished. The inspector said it was a good job. The stream looked like a canal, the man had to be subnormal. John got paid, I guess. I never asked. The next inspection would be in twenty or thirty years. It was time to start work.

My pals thought a rebuild was a great idea, so they lent a hand. By now it was summer holiday time. The lads had time in hand so they worked hard for a few days, got to hand that to them. Then someone got the idea to dam part of the stream to create a swimming pool. They created a pool about two feet deep and forty yards long on a flat stretch. This became a playing ground for the young pretty and talented for the summer and, as if by magic, my workforce disappeared. There were even a few good trout showing there, more difficult to tempt in the flat water. I learned finesse.

Overall I suppose it was about two years of hard work later – with hundreds of wheelbarrows full of weed being moved; tractors borrowed to move rocks; experimentation with currents, worn out jeans and soaked pants – that the riverbed again became stable.

The stream had helped herself to the bounties of nature. The winter floods had scoured and silted. Weed was regrown, bankside vegetation was regaining a roothold. The fly life was again thick on the water and in the air and in early winter the spawning gravels looked like a herd of steers had stampeded up there. The dippers were the first birds to come back on the scene. I even saw a kingfisher one day. The best trout were now just on sixteen ounces, an increase, I believe of about fifty percent in weight across the herd; and they appeared more silvery, which I attributed to the reduced bankside cover.

One day, after a downpour that had lasted for days, I went fishing again with the lads. They had given the stream up as lost. We caught about ninety fish over a couple of hours on the falling spate, keeping a couple for the grannies, who liked a brace for the dinner.

Another balmy evening, having returned about twenty, I approached a lovely little corner pool, up near the school. I was using a size #16 copper wire and hare’s ear nymph developed from the school of thought of the great Sawyer. Taking out the rearguard and slipping them back into the next pool down, I managed twelve trout averaging about ten ounces before they stopped rising at about two A.M. Next day I crept back with a pair of polaroids and took about a quarter of an hour to count thirteen in the pool. RATS. missed one.. Thinking about it, I did prick one just before the rise stopped! That pool was about twenty feet long and at low water was five feet across and two feet deep at the neck, the rest of the width being silted up and full of cress.

Now, nearly forty years after the rebuild, she still rises fast, she drops a bit more quickly than she used to, she still drains the bogs and lakes and she keeps herself clean.

I could go on forever about this little stream as she goes on forever to the big river and to the sea. I will stop, instead, and let you get out and throw a boulder in your secret stream.

Before you go, please take a moment to join me in respect to the late John Shaw who passed over some years ago now, and whose gift of knowledge and love of nature I was privileged to receive and which I hope to have passed forward to future generations. “

 Roy guiding me on the wee burn. it was a special moment and always will be.

Why Emergers Are Important

by Mike Lawson via Rio’s blog

being one who generally shuns fishing the imago (final stage/adult development of a winged insect) for all the reasons explained below, i’ll almost always go for emerger-style patterns first or on a dropper behind a higher-floating dry.
this article is a real gem and one of the best i’ve ever read on ‘not only matching the hatch, but matching what the fishes are keyed-in on’ tactics.
it was hard selecting a teaser quote for you because it’s great from the beginning till the end and chocked full of spot-on info often kept secret. this one’s a definite keeper for the serious salmonid angler. thanks Mike !

” One of the most common questions is how to know when a trout is feeding on emergers. I simply use the process of elimination. Adult mayflies or caddisflies are relatively easy to see as they drift on the surface, even if you’re half blind like me. You need to be patient when you find a feeding trout and take time to watch. If you see adult insects drifting over a trout’s feeding position without being noticed, you can bet the fish is feeding on emergers. ”
full article here

A Christmas Present from the Queen

A True Story by Jack Gartside

“As I approached the moat I looked this way and that to make sure there was no one around, joined the two pieces of my rod together, and with one flick of my wrist sent the little brown fly I had tied to my leader out into the middle of the moat, where I could see two very large trout swimming slowly about, waiting for the tourists to show up, no doubt. The Unsinkable Molly Brown (my name for the fly, tied from mink scraps scrounged from a Soho furrier’s trash) must have looked like a crust of bread or perhaps a piece of sausage or something else good to eat and the trout lost no time in coming for it. The smaller trout got there first, inhaled the fly, and I set the hook. Then it was off to the races. It took me around the moat twice before I was able to land it. At least five pounds, I figured. A very nice trout, indeed, which I quickly released. And just as quickly I unjoined the rod pieces, hid them under my long winter overcoat, and casually walked away.”

click here for the whole story

‘specially if they look like sausages !…