This river season has been a roller coaster ride. It started with skeletal rain starved rivers and the fishing only really got going around end of October. Now it feels like I’m on a bullet train to the finish. I haven’t fished as much as in previous seasons, but what lacked in number has made up in quality, especially the times spent under canvas close to mountains (well not quite canvas, rather rip-stop nylon) – so, I’m not complaining. What concerns me is that the rivers have their ribs showing again, starved of autumn rain and soaring day temperatures more associated with mid-summer – with winter looming it does not bode well once again for an early start to the season later in the year. Why did I write this paragraph? I have no idea because it wasn’t the point to begin with – seeing that I had to think about it, I’ll just leave it. The only connection to what I had in mind is that it will soon be the winter season and apart from extra reading and time at the vice it calls for a clean out of fly jackets and backpacks. I know the season is at an end when my fly jacket begins to weigh heavily on my shoulders – the accumulation of stuff. Jettisoning some of it is a bit of a ceremony as I yield to dubious paraphernalia, empty spools of tippet, things that find their way into hidden pockets, things that I have no idea why they were put there in the first place! I usually contemplate the need for things like nippers when you have teeth that do a great job, but since my last crown fitting my dentist has changed some of my jaw mechanics and spacings so that I can’t even manage 7X these days – so, nippers stay, but the fancy knot tool, sinkant, leader cleaner can go. The thermometer can follow suit – I have got quite good at the finger tip test to know if the trout will be feeling comfortable or not. The forceps stay because I use them all the time.
I even contemplated loosing the net because I like to land my fish by hand and there is something about the connection, but it must stay, why? Because I often find myself alone with a decent fish to photograph and its then that the net is indispensable for keeping the fish safe until I’m ready with the camera. And, I have some really nice nets from local craftsmen Boshoff, Geldenhuys and Stammer that make good props.
One of the two fly boxes must go – the smaller of the two can stay, although it is even bigger than I really need. The accumulation of years of flies of every conceivable imitation demands a lot of ruthless work. As Hank Patterson will tell you a nymph is a nymph just in different sizes and colours some with beadheads and some without. ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5m0QbVTWhtw ) So all I will need is one nymph in a couple of sizes and weights, a selection of mayfly and caddis dries, a couple of terrestrials like the wolf spider and hopper, a few soft hackles, an emerger or two and a half dozen of my old favourites that help when I need to change the minds of difficult trout – and, then I will be good to go.
Thoughts now turn to the new season, still 3 months away. A little rust as always will develop in that time so the casting arm will need a little work. Wading usually begins with me resembling a one legged heron stumbling over round, slick rocks and arms flailing misjudging depth and current speed – mishaps are likely, correction, will happen! Once the rust has been scraped off it will be back to business and I will be confident doing steps, moves and the odd pirouette that any ballet dancer would be proud of, and presentations will be sweet, hopefully. And, seeing that this blog is now kind of all over the place, here is a parting shot to contemplate – there appears to be a no-nonsense stance happening in fly fishing, it seems it must show purpose, the modern testosterone brimmed ‘headhunter’ girds himself against the waste of time, no longer content to contemplate the relationship of life to eternity ….. slow down and smell the roses I say … just saying!