The smell of freshly ground coffee permeates the house, it must be 9 am. It’s a daily habit that got me thinking about the many self-inflicted rituals and traditions that we invariably follow, none less so than flyfishers and their idiosyncrasies.
I speak from my experiences – My trips to Rhodes always involve a stop either on the Kraai River bridge or at the top of Naudes Pass to toast our arrival in wild trout country. Then, there are the rituals ahead of a day’s fishing on my home waters – sorting tackle, checking leaders and replacing old tippets, boiling eggs, making my favourite sandwiches and stashing it all at the front door in readiness for an early start. There are the fuel top-up stops, the usual bad garage shop coffees and on the way home, the must-have-pie at the Windmill diner on the outskirts of Nottingham Road. And, after extended camping trips and before saying our farewells as we return to our respective corners of the country, there is without failure a visit to a nearby hotel where we always order their large speciality burger and chips washed down with a Guinness or two – believe me it’s needed after a few days of camp food.
At least once during each fishing season on rivers and streams, stillwaters and along the coast, in remote camps, cottages and lodges, old friends, some not so old, get together in familiar places at familiar times to connect, well, with just about everything. Some of us have been doing it for more years than we can recall, some in the group are regulars others join for a season or two and then move on.
In my case it is no more evident than in the annual camping trips to hidden places in the mountains. It starts with the usual emails among the core group detailing plans, dates, travel, gear, food, all pretty much the same year after year – the familiar. We use the same camp sites each season, the tents are pitched in the same positions, guy ropes pegged and attached to the same trees and wet clothing is draped over the same branches. The kitchen is set up where it has been for years. We even have our fixed seating places, we always cook the same meals and enjoy a few pan fried fresh trout on the third evening. We have our own pool and rock in the stream where we bath, well, rather more of a splash-n-dash in the frigid water. We drink a bit in the evenings. If truth be told, usually more whisky than we should. We relate many of the same stories, embellished a little from previous years, we laugh at the same jokes and a few new ones and marvel at the endless idiocies of modern existence. After breaking camp there is always a group photo and the ceremony of spearing our most successful fly into the trunk of a tree on the edge of the stream.
That is more or less is how these annual events play out and a few of the traditions and rituals are repeated year after year. Many flyfishers today travel the globe fishing new and exotic places, perusing new species on fly, meeting new people, revelling in new experiences and endlessly searching for, well, something. But, at least once a year we gather with our core group of friends, head for the same familiar places, strictly follow the same script, less in our heads than in our hearts.
A brief break from the endless humdrum of our daily routines, jobs and city life, to places where the fish make fun of us and our friends try their best to do so too.
We ARE creatures of habit.
All images and copy in this post are copyright Peter Brigg © 2018. All rights reserved