A short while ago I came across this quote by the late Mel Krieger. The truth of it resonated with me –
“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.”
“Maps encourage boldness. They’re cryptic love letters. They make anything seem possible.” Mark Jenkins
I have spent many a winters evening pouring over maps and now Google Earth following the thin blue lines into the mountains to where the contours are tightly drawn – the feeder streams to known waterways, far from named pools and worn paths – places that are probably unfished or ignored and where anything more than a 2-weight is a handicap. The gradient is steep and the cold water like liquid crystal, rushes quickly, cascading through pockets and where there is a wrinkle in the earth, the occasional deep slot – the small trout are wild, heavily spotted and on nervous fins disappear at a hint of anything weird – one minute they are there and then in a blink of an eye, gone. Perfect habitats 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. Adrenaline rushes at the thought of adventure, of the unknown and the prospect of the fishing – it must be said that today, very few are secret by way of the true definition of the word. We also have no right to claim them as our own, but we do have a responsibility to protect and conserve these places. If size and the number of fish are your measure, don’t waste the energy – avoid the disappointment.
The quandary I’m always faced with is whether or not I share these places with others. I do suffer from feelings of guilt for not, but take consolation in the fact that if I don’t, these fragile stream environments will be shielded for a while at least, from the impacts of too much fishing pressure.
There is an opposing view – advocates of a thought that greater use brings more awareness for the protection of these streams. For me the jury is still out on the merits of this philosophy and make no apologies for my position. It took many years, the letting of blood and sweat, literally, to discover some of the hidden gems. I know a handful of others that have done the same and are still doing it – there is a kind of mutual understanding between us that we don’t talk openly about these places, especially not through tantalising photographs and cryptic comments on social media that will needlessly pique curiosity and raise questions – it will expose them.
I’m reminded of the words of Tom Sutcliffe that to some extent satisfies both beliefs – “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.”
All images and copy in this post are copyright Peter Brigg Photography © 2017. All rights reserved