A short while ago I came across this quote by the late Mel Krieger and was struck by its truth. He had this to say, “I don’t know why I fish or why others never fish except that we like it and that it makes us think and feel. But, I also know if it were not for the strong, quick life of rivers, for the sparkle in the sunshine, for the cold greyness of them under rain and the feel of them about my legs as I set my feet hard down on rocks, or sand or gravel, I should fish less often. A river is never quite silent, it can never of its very nature be quite still. It is never quite the same from one day to the next. It has its own life and its own beauty and the creatures it nourishes are alive and beautiful also. Perhaps fishing is for me only an excuse to be near rivers – so I’m glad I thought of it.”
If I’d met Mel I think we would have gotten along because I share his sentiments and can relate to his comments about fishing and rivers.
For me there is nothing better on a cold winters evening in the warmth of my man cave, to pull out my maps of the mountains and to carefully study those blue lines where the contours are steep and the places look remote. I’m talking about the thin blue lines off the main waterways, in deep, secret valleys in the shadow of the towering escarpment that probably haven’t been visited by anyone in the last 12 months, if at all. These are freestone streams where the gradient is steep and the cold water like liquid crystal, cascades quickly through pockets and deep fishy looking slots. Where the bright, spotted trout are wild in a perfect habitat with overhanging vegetation, bank undercuts, bedrock and bottom structure with holding and feeding lies. The places I seek and sometimes find are gems of discovery, far from human settlement and where the only means of getting there is leg power, a backpack with all one needs for a few days in wilderness and some basic fishing gear. Here one finds peace and solitude, shared only with a few companions, a place where man is the intruder. There is excitement at the adventure, of the unknown, of discovery and the possibilities of the fishing. But, the dilemma I’m always faced with is whether or not I share these places with others. I sometimes suffer from feelings of guilt at not spreading the word, but take solace in the fact that if I don’t, these pristine, sensitive streams environments will not suffer the fate of many other streams where I have witnessed the impacts of fishing pressure and the unfortunate habits of some anglers that don’t always respect the integrity of these pristine natural areas for the future.
I’m reminded of the words of Tom Sutcliffe when he said, “ I share these places with you in the certain knowledge that if, by chance you happen to go there, you will treat them as sacred, as a venue that will need all our efforts, all our finest ethics, to keep it unspoiled.”
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