Thoughts and opinions

Much of fly-fishing is in the mind ... Wayne Curtis

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One of the most endearing things about fisherfolk (myself included) is that they have thoughts and opinions on just about everything. The most popular topics these days, other than what flies are hatching, seem to be taxes, politics, the environment, sex, music, movies, books and the plight of the salmon and trout. Usually these discussions take place on the drive, or on the walk, and not during the actual act of fishing. Mind you, someone, somewhere down the line, is bound to bring up the topic of what constitutes a good bowel movement, usually when there's a nice hatch on and the fish are rising everywhere.
So, for what they're worth, here's a few of my thoughts and opinions ...

One life

There are lots of fish in my life. The carp, the roach, the bream, the cod, the haddock, the mackerel, the whale, the porpoise, the brookie, the brown, and the salmon. All have, unknowingly, given me great pleasure.

I learned to fish carp, roach and bream with my grandfather and my father. These were freshwater fish that most fishermen did not kill. It was on an English river bank that I must have learned about the peace and quiet that comes with being in the company of not only my family, but with nature. I did not consciously absorb nature but something surely must have resided inside me. I honestly believe that whatever it was it would not have been given the chance to surface if I had stayed in England.

When I saw the raw beauty of Canada I couldn't believe my eyes. I was home.

I first fished for brook trout and killed them. It was what everybody did back then. Within a year I was hand-lining cod and haddock and mackerel, and feeding a family with the harvest. I don't suppose I needed to, but it did save some money, and it was fresh, and they were plentiful.

I sea fished for twenty-five years. During my voyages I crossed paths with whales, porpoise, sunfish and a rare beluga. Unforgettable sights. Then the fish started to be hard to find. A two mile run became a five mile run became a ten mile run. And I found it harder to service the boat in the fall and get it ready in the spring. All I have now is a rowboat and a canoe. But I still remember the evenings on the way home from a trip, the wide red line from the sunset reflecting on the sea heading directly at the boat. I remember how small I felt when I looked at the horizon and saw nothing but sea and sky. Nature overwhelmed me.

I returned to fishing for brook trout, only now I was using a fly rod, and I did not kill them. I became even more aware of nature. The insects, the flowers, the trees, the birds. In fact I am now quite content to sit on the bank and watch other people fish, it gives me time to appreciate my surroundings and to realise how very lucky I am.

Accentuate the positive ....

I've found that, when it comes to sportfishing, 99% of fisherfolk are positive thinkers. Why else would they go fishing? There's always that thought of hooking a fish, but even on fishless days something positive will come out of it.

Then there's the 1% that are negatives. I knew a negative fisherman once, our acquaintanceship didn't last long.

During the dog days of winter I pass some of my time watching fly-fishing videos on Youtube. It amazes me that even here you will find great videos that have negative votes.

I wondered what other subjects these negative people would find fault with so I looked at the Muppets Christmas Special, and it too has received negative votes. I can't for the life of me understand what these people have against a bunch of puppets.

I have come to the conclusion that these unhappy people's sole purpose in life is to be negative about everything. It is the only thing I can think of.

I guess it takes all kinds, doesn't it.

December 2012, already thinking about next years trips, I know we'll have a good time.

.... eliminate the negative

Sport's soliloquists

I'm a sports junkie. I have my favourites and, let me tell you, beach volleyball is not one them.

In no particular order, I watch Premier League Soccer, Championship Tennis, any form of Athletics that does not require a judge, Boxing (corrupt judges included), Playoff Football, the World Series, Formula 1, and Coronation Street.

One of the sports I draw the line at is Hockey. Does that make me anti-Canadian? It's just that hockey will never be the same for me since the expansion of 1967. And in 2012, for the fourth time since 1992, we have yet another strike.

Anyway, what irks me about all these sports nowadays is the disrespectful attitudes of the commentators. All they ever want to do is hear the sound of their own voice. The actual sport is secondary to their so-called expert knowledge. They'll be talking about some obscure statistic from twenty years ago right through a goal being scored, or a touchdown, or a home run. Those particular moments are only grudgingly acknowledged at the conclusion of their mindless spiel.

They'll point out whoever was at fault on the play and how, in their minds, it should have been done. I'd just like to see one of these pudgy characters stand up to a 220 pound running back coming towards them at full speed, or get a bat off their shoulder on a 100mph fastball, or come face-to-face with Ronaldo with the ball at his feet. Fat chance!

I now have to turn the sound down so far that I can't even hear 50,000 fans cheering because I can't stand to hear these idiots mouth-off.

Do I sound annoyed? You betcha!

P.S. After spending one year on NBC's NFL studio show, Joe Montana (a four-time Super Bowl winning quarterback) quit the show because, as he said ... "That's the thing I didn't like about the announcing part: They want you to be loud, argumentative and definitive. You didn't have to be right. They want someone to say, Oh, what an idiot ... I have a hard time doing that to other players because I know how difficult it is."

And to quote referee Kat Davey, "TV commentators annoy me because they often don't know the laws of the game. Those who have played the game often don't know the laws of the game either."

And from Monique's snooker blog ... Because of the slow pace, our commentators seem to feel the need to "fill" the time by babbling about things irrelevant to the match in progress. I hate it, so I mute the sound, which transforms watching Ebdonesque snooker into a kind of zen experience.

Black and white

I feel sure I'm not the first person to think of this, but I wonder why black is the predominant colour of fly-tying threads, especially for wet flies, in most pattern books.
I would have thought white would be more appropriate.
Apart from a black body, a black thread darkens the body colour of a fly when it is wet.
Wouldn't a white thread help to retain the original body colour?
Maybe it's all about the head of a fly. But then again, I don't know how much attention a fish gives to the head of a fly.
Of course the answer is to use a thread colour that matches the body colour, which is what I do in most cases.
I don't think I've ever tied a fly using a white thread.
I'll tie one right now and see how it works.

Black thread --- Dry Professor --- White thread

Wet Professor
Quite the difference


A white threaded, caddis-green klinkhamer.
Dry .... Wet

However, the bottom line is this ... most of the wet fly patterns have been around for a hundred years or more and they've hooked countless trout.
Their success is written in black and white.

Wouldn't you know it! A week after writing this I was flicking through the back pages of a Spawner magazine and came across an article on a new, green bodied, salmon fly.
Rafae Kaminsky wrote ... "A very useful trick is to coat the hook with bright white or silver, light weight, material. A white underbody makes a big difference when the fly is wet and helps colours stay true and vivid."
He used white teflon plumbers tape!

One man went to mow ...

In the summertime, when the rivers are dry, and I am home, I hear the incessant buzzing of lawnmowers. Some days from eight in the morning 'til eight at night.

Being used to the quietness of seven months of winter, such activity is an unnatural and irritating sound to me. It's sort of like having a mosquito vibrating an inch from my ear (or, as Fishgirl put it, like living in a beehive).

I wonder why it bothers me so much these days. I can only put it down to the increased number of new houses with sodded lawns of Kentucky Bluegrass. Not that I have anything against Kentucky Bluegrass because I am well aware as to how good grass is for the environment. The most frequent mowers seem to be the owners of summer places where they come down every weekend and the first thing they do is mow the lawn. Without hesitation, even before they light the barbecue. Their lawns don't really need mowing but I think, for them, it is a part of the country cottage ritual. I can understand that, we all have rituals.

On the advice of a local old-timer, my lawn is made of timothy and clover. He sold seed and gardening supplies out of an old red barn on his property. He told me timothy and clover is a good mix for residential properties that are surrounded by spruce and pine. He was right, and it's lovely to see the white clover bloom on the lawn, as well as the yellow goatsbeard, dandelions, wild strawberries, buttercups, and a huge variety of tiny wild flowers. The birds and bees love it.

Don't know why, but my lawn grows fast and needs mowing about three times before summer sets in - and then it turns brown. No it doesn't. It just kind of lowers its head and says that's enough. No more mowing. And besides which, I don't mow, someone does it for me. I reckon I could have bought a couple of good ride-on mowers for what I have paid out over the years, but, I tell you what, the person I pay does a much better job that I ever would and he takes about a tenth of the time.

I suppose one of these days I'll get used to the lawnmowers, just as I did when I lived close to the railroad tracks and never took notice of the old steam trains chugging on by.

went to mow a meadow...


One morning, about two years ago, I had a call from an old friend of mine. He'd just bought a bottom-of-the-line gps gadget so's he wouldn't get lost in the woods.
"Come on down Paddy and sort this here thing out for me," he said.

I know nothing about gps systems but, like he said, the manual was on a disk and he didn't know how to turn the computer on, let alone use it. So off I went.

He showed me the system and I used the 'Quick Guide' to try and figure things out. It didn't make sense to me. In order to get to where you wanted to be you had to be there in the first place.

"Doesn't this thing have a map?" I asked.
"I woulda thought so," he replied.
"Ok," I said, "let's look at what's on the disk."

Switched the computer on. Turns out there wasn't much more information on the disk than was included in the Quick Guide. No mention of a map. I gave up. Switched the computer off.

We went back to the living room where I asked him if he'd watched the dvd of the fishing show I'd lent him.

"No, I don't know how to set up the dvd player, can you do it for me?" was his reply.

His wife dragged the dvd player out from the back room and I hooked it up. It didn't take but a couple of minutes and I had the dvd playing. He wrote everything down and then I left.

When I got home I went on the web and looked up his gps system. No, a map was not included and no, a map could not be installed. Then I clued in and called him back.

"What it is," I explained to him, "is that you have to enter your starting point into the gps. Then you wander through the woods and, if you're lucky, you'll get to where you want to go to. Then you enter that point in the gps. Now you can find your way back to your starting point. Seems arse-about-face to me but at least you'll never be lost."

I knew my explanation had to be wrong, there has to be some way of entering the coordinates from a topographic map, but until someone shows me different I'll stick to the only thing I could think of.

Two years later I asked how he was making out with his gps. He said he put it in a drawer that very day and hasn't looked at it since.

Wood you?

March ninth, 2010. We've got just about enough wood left to see us through 'til Opening Day.

For five months the woodstove has been going night and day and I've just about had enough of loading her up.

I think most people that use wood as their primary source of heat get tired of the routine. There's more to a woodstove than just throwing a couple of logs in now and again. I added up the number of logs used in a twelve hour period and it worked out to be 1.5 logs per hour. That's 2,700 logs for a five month period.

First of all, if you don't cut your own, there's the problem of finding a reputable supplier who gives you a full cord. Then there's the stacking in the outer sheds while the blackflies feast upon exposed skin. Then the odd stack will have to be re-stacked as the wood dries and the ground heaves and half a cord topples over. There's the splinters that get infected and a back that bends in pain. There's ashes that have to be emptied every three or four days and the weekly routine of sweeping up bark and wood chips. There's the pot of water on top of the stove that needs topping up every so often. And when the snow is down there's the loads that have to be wheeled into the basement and stacked again.

I wouldn't have it any other way. There's nothing like the constant heat of a woodstove and the mesmerizing flick of flames, but I'll be glad to get fishing again.

P.S. A friend of mine gets his wood delivered in eight foot lengths so as he can cut it up to size to suit his two woodstoves. He grumbled about his last load saying it was all twisted and some of it was rotten. The feller delivering the wood said, "God makes the wood and I just deliver it. If you've got any complaints take it up with him."



In the right hands chainsaws can be very useful tools. In the wrong hands chainsaws, much like atv's, can be deadly. My neighbour across the road has a chainsaw, he also has an atv. A lethal combination.

It was around 9.30 in the morning when I heard his chainsaw, followed by a roaring sound and some cracks and snapping. I looked across the road to my neighbour's property. I was just in time to see a falling tree break the power lines. Sparks were flying. The fire brigade arrived ten minutes later.

Trees are my neighbour's enemy and he'd decided to take down one of the few remaining trees that had invaded his land. He had hooked a rope to the tree, tied it to the atv, cut the tree and pulled at it with the atv. The tree rolled, fell in the wrong direction and, lo and behold, we had no power. In fact the main road for miles and miles and all the side roads were without power.

The thing that makes it all seem so bizarre is that the tree wasn't even on his property. It was on the adjacent neighbour's property.

When we had power, three hours later, he figured he could do even better by cutting more trees on the right-of-way that runs alongside my property. You might have guessed it, one of the trees he felled came down on my property and took down two trees I had recently planted.

This morning, when I went down to see the damage he had kindly removed the logs (he burns them in his woodstove) but left me a pile of brush to clear away.

I planted thirty more trees.

Rod and reel - physical balance.

Last year my wife acquired a nice, nine-foot, eight-weight, salmon rod that weighed 4.6 ounces. We matched it with a reel that weighed 5.9 ounces. The first time we tested it was on a three-day trip to the Margaree. Neither she nor I could get a good feel for the outfit. We both felt we needed to put too much effort into each cast and even then we couldn't seem to get any distance.

I'm all in favour of using the lightest reel possible but after reading some books and researching the web I came up with some interesting articles on the physical balance of rod and reel.

Using this information I assembled the loaded reel to the rod, strung the line through the guides leaving three feet hanging, and placed my finger on the fulcrum point (where the index finger of my casting hand grips the cork). The tip of the rod dipped sharply to the floor when it should have stayed level (my friend Vern likes a heavy reel which tips the rod in the opposite direction. He figures it acts as a counterweight).

According to the information from one article the loaded reel should weigh about 1.5 times the weight of the rod. Therefore her reel needed another ounce. I achieved this by removing the line and backing and winding on a non-toxic, non-leaded solder. Amazingly enough this additional ounce balanced the rod.

It was later tested on another three-day trip to the Margaree and the difference in her casting was quite unbelievable. She cast much further and with greater ease. It was a treat to watch.

This year I tried the same experiment on a seven-foot, four-weight, bamboo trout rod that weighed 3.3 ounces. I matched it with a loaded reel that weighed 4.1 ounces. When balanced the rod dipped sharply to the floor. I tried casting and found it quite comfortable. However, if I employed the formula I should have been using a reel that weighed 5 ounces. I did not have one but dug out my old Orvis Battenkill which weighed 5.4 ounces. The rod stayed level. Casting with it was just as comfortable but I was surprised to find I could cast quite a few more feet.

I don't think physical balance is as important with small rods (you shouldn't need to cast far for a brookie), but it sure paid off with the nine foot. Having said all this I'm sure there are those of you that may have "unbalanced" outfits yet can still flick a fly a long distance with no problem at all.

And I don't suppose Thomas McGuane considered physical balance when he wrote in his book, The Longest Silence, that for trout fishing, ... Everyone in our family had a huge brown fly rod with a Portugese cork handle and identical Pflueger Medalist reels the size used for Atlantic Salmon.

By the way, Pflueger Medalist reels have an adjustable weight system. To quote Pflueger ... This new and exclusive feature enables the angler to increase the weight of the reel to balance the rod (by the addition of BB shot to the hollow centre of the spool).


There has to be some kind of weird science at work behind the fact that washing machines can turn clothes inside-out. I am the laundry man in this household and it becomes a chore when I have to pull sleeves and legs into their rightful state before placing clothes on hangers.

I would say that at least a third of the clothes I wash will be affected by this phenomenon. I try to visualise how it happens. In my mind I suspend a fully clothed mannequin from a rope. Then I spin the mannequin until the rope is fully twisted and I can spin it no more. Then I let go. I watch as the mannequin twirls faster and faster. I picture the shirt flying off. The buttons pop, the shirt opens, the sleeves slide down the arms until they are inside-out and the shirt flies off. The same goes for the underwear, pants and socks.

It all makes sense to me but doesn't make my job any easier. I am now considering turning everything inside-out before loading the washer.

Bucket and Chuckit

Something I saw the other day reminded me of the term "bucket and chuckit."

On my walk down the road I met J.D. and he insisted I take a look at his Ultimate Mouse Trap. Coming from a long line of farmers, J.D. has learned to make use of anything lying around the yard. An infestation of mice in his greenhouse led to the following creation.
The trap is fashioned from an old, cracked feed bucket with water in the bottom, a coat hanger, a Coke can dobbed in the middle with smooth peanut butter, and a scrap piece of plywood.

The mouse runs up the board and either crawls along the rim of the bucket and walks along the wire, or simply jumps onto the can. The can spins, the mouse falls and it's goodbye mouse. The mice are then chucked in the ocean as feed for the gulls. Bucket and chuckit.


It's taken me years to figure out which hooks I like. I imagine it's the same for any dedicated fly-fisher. I started out with the cheapest hooks I could buy. Now I'm paying gods knows what for good dry-fly hooks. I don't even look at the price. Trout hooks that is. Not salmon hooks, I know as much about salmon fishing as I do quantum physics. Trout hooks.

For the dry-fly I like a really light hook that's a little bit longer than the normal dry-fly hook. And, seeing as most of my dries are parachutes, the Tiemco 101 really fills the bill. It's a straight-eye hook, which, although I suspect it doesn't have the hooking mechanics of a down-eye, doesn't penetrate the surface. The eye is a continuation of the body and creates a head. Sounds good anyway. I don't lose too many with this hook. Just the right amount. Mind you, I was oh-for-four the other night. My fault, I was taken by surprise. It's a nice hook to look at too.

For streamers I go for the cheapest hooks because I know I'm gonna lose quite a few to rocks, logs, branches and hopefully, big fish. The Mustad 9671, 9672, and 79580, are perfect for what I need. Strong shanks, big barbs, heavy wire. Sturdy, down-to-earth hooks. I have no problem adding the materials to this hook, it can carry the weight. Not a pretty hook, a muscle hook.

I tie very few wets. I think it's because I lose more of these than I do streamers, but if I have to I use one of the above.

And even less nymphs because I lose more of these than I do wets.

Give me another fifty years and I'll find even better hooks.

P.S. Hooks, something to think about.
In the August 2007 issue of Fly Tyer, Grahame Maisey (a supplier of custom hooks) states ... "We discovered that with flies tied on hooks with down-turned eyes, especially regular wet-fly and nymph hooks, that the flies drift through the water correctly as long as there's no drag on the line. But, when you begin putting a little drag on the line, these flies will flip over. When a fly is tied on a hook with an eye that is turned up, however, it always rides in the correct position."


It seems to me that in North America a football field has become the new standard of measurement.

Newspeople use it. The distance to Mars, the height of an iceberg, the acreage of a fire. I even caught a segment of CSI (which I don't watch) where they used it to measure the size of a trash-carrying barge (half a football field). And on the subject of water conservation a Daily Planet reporter commented that ... More than 1,200 football fields of turf that have been removed in Las Vegas in the last five years (and replaced with desert-friendly landscaping). And, according to the History Channel ... The bridge that Caesar built across the Rhine River during his invasion of Germany was four football fields long. And one of my very favourites, taken from an episode of My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding, ... Her wedding dress had a train that was half the length of a football field.

In American football the size of a field would be 100 yards long by 53 yards wide with 10 yard end zones. In Canadian football it is 110 yards by 65 yards with 20 yard end zones. In the rest of the world a football field would be what we refer to as a soccer field. In international competition, a soccer field measures from 100 to 130 yards long and from 50 to 100 yards wide.

As my friend Roy said ... "Why don't they use king-sized mattresses?" This makes much more sense to me.

Going flat out, I predict the next salmon I hook will be one-third the length of a mattress (26 inches). Fat chance!

P.S. From the International Express (a British tabloid) regarding a building blitz..."green spaces and flower beds covering the equivalent of 2,755 Wembley football (soccer) pitches will be wiped out by the year 2016."

Next means later?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines "next" as...Immediately succeeding or preceding, closest to hand, least remote, immediately following, coming directly after another in point of time. And "later" as...Coming at a longer interval after the usual or proper time; at a later time or period.

Have you ever noticed that some television programs, with the local and national news being the worst offenders, always announce what's coming up next. They even go so far as to flash it up on the screen before fading to the advertisements. And I, like a fool, sit through the ads waiting to see something I am interested in. There's been times I've sat through three sets of ads before I get to see what they said was coming up next.

So, I'm going fishing later and next I'm gonna pay the bills.

Taken for granted

I'd already been thinking about things people take for granted when I was watching Daily Planet the other night. Natasha pointed out that most people take clouds for granted and yet we know so little about them. The segment that followed detailed the scientific studies being done on clouds and reinforced our lack of knowledge.

I'd been walking along the river thinking about the trees and the space that we Nova Scotians are used to. Trees and space are not taken for granted by country folk or by those souls who yearn for such things.

Over the years I've taken many things for granted, but as I've grown older I've learned to take nothing for granted, and I cannot imagine life without trees and space.

It's when we lose the things we take for granted that we realize how important they are to our way of life, and by then, it's too late.

The picture show

As a child, living in London, I used to go to the Saturday morning picture show. I imagine the age limit was for six to twelve year olds. Since I don't have much memory past the age of ten or eleven it would have been around the year 1950-51.

Can you imagine a movie house full of six to twelve year olds? It was a riot! We'd be watching The Lone Ranger, and we'd all scream out "Look out, behind you!" or some such shriek. Things used to get thrown around. I don't remember what kind of things; I can't remember what we used to take to the movies for food. Bread pudding most likely. And the things we threw around were what the bread pudding was wrapped up in.

One thing I do remember is Superman flying through the skies and you could see the wire that he was suspended from. And cowboys were cowboys and Indians were Indians, if you know what I mean. It was all fantasy.

I think life revolves around the things you loved as a child.

On the other hand, Vern can't watch a movie for more than thirty minutes and then he figures his brain has been overtaxed. Well, that's not really what he said. What he said was that his attention span was kind of short and thirty minutes watching anything on television was enough.

I asked him whether or not he went to the movies as a child. He said he had but only in his teenage years and that was when he had a girl with him. I said maybe his mind was on other things.

I asked him what did he do if he didn't go to the movies, and his answer was quite emotional for me. He said in the summer they used to swim all the time. He said there'd be ten or eleven kids at the swimming hole every day in the summer. And in the winter they went coasting on homemade coasters made from oak barrel staves. He had a special one with some kind of blocks on it. "In my years there was no such thing as toys. We'd go for long walks in the woods and lakes and shores, and be on the roads day and night. Now I ask myself, I know there's more kids around here than when I was a child. So where are they?"

Which explains why he doesn't dig movies and loves being outdoors.

For more of my thoughts about the movies please click on ... The Silver screen


It seems to me that automobiles can do just about anything these days. They can start by remote, travel by GPS, self-adjust the ride, compute gas usage and tell you the outside temperature. I can even see the day when they'll be able to reproduce. Imagine a Subaru and a Toyota touching noses and spawning a SubToy. I've tried it with both our cars but all I got was some scraped paint and a groan from my wife.

I think most of these changes are great. Especially since there was a time when I had to stick my arm out of the window in the pouring rain to signal I was turning or slowing down, and no longer do I get a sore knee from hitting the clutch, or wrapping the radiator in a blanket, or repairing multiple punctures.

The only real problem I have is with "keyless" entry. I couldn't tell you how many times I've turned around from a walk to the river wondering if I locked the doors. The reason for this is that I've turned off the audible alarm because the sound bothers me.

I relate the honking of cars to traffic jams and irritable drivers and not to the peace and quiet of the country. In the long run I guess I'm just gonna have to pay the price for tranquility, and add ten more minutes on my walks to the river.

Newfie candies

I was recently sent some Newfie candies and the following is my email...

You know the thing I love about those Purity candies? Picking the paper of the Kisses. It's like knitting, one stitch at a time. Sometimes I don't bother and eat the paper as well.
I reckon that's how Newfies pass their time on a cold winters night, picking the paper of the Kisses. It's almost spiritual. Like a form of meditation. Before you know it the sun is rising over the horizon and it's time to launch the boats.

The reply...

It's a funny thing about those Kisses...I think the company intentionally wraps the candy while they are still warm so that the wrap is stuck. We can then get ourselves ready for that first chew which is so sweet it makes your mouth pucker. Glad to hear they are creating such a positive experience for you.

Hockey - Canada's Game

I've seen that bumper sticker on quite a few automobiles and I'm afraid I have to disagree.

I haven't watched a hockey game in its entirety, apart from the 1972 Canada v Russia series, since expansion back in 1967.

Talking about the '72 series, I was on a plane coming home from England and the pilot did a live play-by-play of one of the games over the announcement system. Every Canadian aboard erupted from their seats when Canada scored and won.

Before '67 there were only six teams and every player was Canadian. Toronto, Montreal, Boston, Detroit, Chicago and New York. They were the best in the world. How could they not be?

Hockey was at its finest in the fifties and sixties. There weren't any strikes, even though there probably should have been. The players back then were much better and paid millions of dollars less than those of today. And, I repeat, every one was a Canadian. Beliveau, Bathgate, Horton, Hull, Harvey, Howe, Keon, Plante, Richard, Sawchuk, etc.

As often as we could the boys and I would visit the tavern (in the good old days before women were allowed in...I hope my wife doesn't read this) on a Wednesday night to cheer and curse our favourite team (which just happened to be Toronto). We knew every player on every team. We knew their strengths and their weaknesses. And we would all close our eyes, fearing the worst, when Bobby Hull let a slapshot go from the blue line or Beliveau carried the puck into our end.

Today you have players from every corner of the globe, and most of them are here for the money and the glory. When I look at their jerseys I have difficulty in pronouncing their names. The NHL has become a melting pot for some great, but foreign players.

Hockey is no longer Canada's game, especially since our loss in this years (2006) Winter Olympics. Where has the teamwork gone? And, by the way, when was the last time a "Canadian" team won the Stanley Cup?

Why is this, I ask myself? I think, like all professional sport, it's simply, a question, of money.

Winter Olympics 2010. The mens and womens team win the gold medal! The mens game was won in overtime on a goal that no-one saw, not even Crosby (the goal scorer). It was one of those games that neither team deserved to lose. I am not a fan of the "golden goal", and firmly believe that the period should be played to its conclusion and then, if it's still tied, a penalty shoot-out.

Zipper up

One of these days I'm gonna invent a pair of chest waders that have a waterproof zip in the crotch area. Being a senior citizen has its drawbacks, one of which is a frequent need to relieve oneself when ones waders hit an icy river. It would be nice if I didn't have to step out, crawl to the bushes, remove my jacket and vest, slip off my wader supports, drop them to my knees, winkle out my willy and, when I am finished, reverse the procedure. And the worst is that while I'm going through this procedure my buddy is hooking fish in my favourite spots.

Mind you, we men have it good compared to the antics a female fly-fisher has to go through. They have my deepest admiration because I know what it's like to bare ones behind to a foot of snow. As Dr. Phil would say, it's a life changing experience.

R.I.P. I've been beaten to the punch! On thumbing through the May issue of the Trout and Salmon magazine I came across the Vision Rapidor chest waders selling for £229.95. "Rapidor also features a Swiss made Storm waterproof zipper for ultimate comfort."
October 2015. Another season is over.

I brought this tree home from the banks of the East River. It's a Banded or Large-leaf maple (that's what I know it by anyway). Some people consider it a weed.

It was just a tiny skinny thing growing in between a stand of its parents. It was about thirty inches high when I picked it. Now look at it! It must be close to thirty feet high.

And on the plus side it's seeded a whole bunch more throughout the yard. They're everywhere!

Today I watched its leaves fall, one by one.

Zane Grey once said, "It is difficult to talk to people who are not particularly interested in the value of a river."

How true. It saddens me to listen to people whose only interest is to kill trout. People who do not see the life of a river. Do nothing to protect it. Are unaware of the goings on below and above the water. People who do not protest when clearcutting operations pour silt into a system. Are unwilling to be educated and reject scientific findings. Who live in the past when trout were plentiful and salmon graced the river.

It is more than difficult. It is nigh on impossible.


I wouldn't live anywhere where I couldn't see water.

Have you ever been bathed by a mirrored sunset on a calm summer night, or witnessed the whitecaps on a wild and woolly day?

I feel the same about water whether I am fishing for mackerel on a damp, foggy morning or wading a river in the middle of an evening hatch, with a rising moon reflecting off the riffles.

And I can't explain it. I can't explain the feeling, but I have to wonder if part of it is genetic. What draws me to water? I think that sometime ago there must have been a wee Irishman fishing in his coracle asking the same question, and thinking that sometime ago there must have been some furry ancestor of his hunting the salmon asking exactly the same thing - and so on.

Without water where would we all be?

Maybe that's the answer.

Hair today

I think that Head and Shoulders removes more than just the dandruff from my head. Every time I lather it on it gets in my eyes and it's like being stuck with a red-hot poker. I ask myself, "If it does that to my eyes then what's it doing to my hair?"

Dandruff should be fashionable, like wearing sequins.

I wonder what we did before the likes of H & S? Seems to me I used to wash my hair with Pears soap. And I only washed it once a week - maybe. Come to that I only bathed once a week, it was all we could afford at the time. Of course, it's all relative isn't it. I have a friend who lived in what could only be called a chicken coop, and he had no running water or electricity so I guess I should have considered myself lucky.

I greased my hair during the rock-n-roll days of Elvis, Ricky Nelson, Chuck Berry, Bill Haley, Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and Fats Domino. Sometimes, after it was trimmed, I'd wear a hair net in bed to keep the shape. Curled forward at the front, swept back at the sides, a "ducks arse" at the rear, cut square at the bottom - and sideburns.

Brylcream. That was the name of the grease. Vaseline was used in emergencies. No need for H & S, the dandruff was trapped by the grease. In fact no air could get to my scalp, nothing could survive under all that grease, not even brain cells.

In the days of Disco and Motown I had an Afro. It embarrasses me to think about it.

Today my hair is receding and I have a bald patch on top. Having H & S and the other hundreds of dandruff removers wear away at my head doesn't really bother me; it's simply a sign of the times.

Gone tomorrow.


Have you ever wondered what kind of petroleum by-product is used to make those "ice" chocolate cubes feel so cool in your mouth? Personally, I don't care.

I could eat a pound of them in two hours if you put them in front of me when there's a good show on tv or when I've rented a great movie. I eat them and can't stop eating them. Even when I've emptied the bag I'll go look in the fridge to see if maybe one has dropped out.

Whatever they put in them it's addictive. In fact I'm writing this while under the addiction. Cool, melting smoothness. Trouble is I know I'll pay for it when it's time for bed, I'll never get to sleep.

Spring ahead; not!

This thing about setting the clocks ahead one hour in the spring is bizarre. No one tells the stonefly, or the trout, or the wind, or the crows that wake me in the morning, that the time has changed and everything they do is supposed to happen one hour later.

Why did the people who instigated this change think they were better than nature?

Who were these people?

Well, contrary to popular belief, it wasn't the farmers. In fact the chief adversary of daylight saving time in the United States is the Farm Bureau. And in Canada one poultry farmer stated, "My chickens do not adapt to the changed clock until several weeks have gone by." Also, some parts of British Columbia, and most of Saskatchewan, do not observe daylight saving time.

So who exactly were these gurus?

The idea of daylight saving time on this side of the Atlantic was first conceived by Benjamin Franklin. And on the other side of the Atlantic it was William Willett in his 1907 pamphlet entitled "Waste of Daylight."

But the final decision lay with the bureaucrats. People who had nothing better to do with their time than to change time. And here in Nova Scotia that occurred in 1917.

All I can say is, that without a doubt, none of them were fly-fishermen.

P.S. Just out of interest, it takes 16 hours for the timekeeper to reset the clocks at Windsor Castle.
P.P.S. November 2005. It's the Fall now and we've recently set our clocks back one hour. My dog, who used to wake me up at 7.15am, now wakes me up at 6.15.


I never see anyone ice-fishing anymore. Maybe it's just the area I'm in but there used to be a time in the winter when there was always someone ice-fishing in the cove up the road.

Sometimes I wondered about how they got out there, seeing as all the ice around the edges was broken up. But there they'd be, some of them wearing one-piece, padded suits, and the odd one with a brown paper bag by his side. I always thought to myself that, "You'd never get me out there without Captain Morgan to keep me company."

Funnily enough I never saw a woman ice-fishing (although my wife has). With all due respect, it takes a man with steel balls (which my wife has, although she is caring and kind and a softy at heart) to go out in minus twenty degree temperatures and sit on a bucket on nine inches of ice and jig on the end of a foot long rod and hook a fish, a smelt, no longer than eight inches, and not too many of them at that.

Sometimes I used to see them spearing eels, now that's an activity that'll keep you warm (I have an eel spear above the door in my basement). I have to admit I found it a bit sad to see the eels squirming around on the ice.

I think as the old-timers die off you'll see less and less ice-fishers. I know my kids will never ice-fish. They've too many other things to do, what with the Internet and their game cubes. I don't think people are born to ice-fish. It has to be taught to them by their father or grandfather, or maybe their older brother or an uncle. It'll be a sad day when the cove freezes over and all I'll see are the ghosts of fishers past.

Anyway, the closest I'll ever get to ice-fishing is to be on a river sucking a popsicle on a warm summers day.

P.S. The following was written by Arthur R. McDougal Jr. in his book Fishing Through the Ice ... But if you do go ice fishing, do not blame me when you get home, if you do get home ...... I think that the only important truth I have left out is that a man gets fed up with being comfortable and sane.

And from Iron Lake by William Kent Kreuger ... Fishermen would drive their pickups and four-wheelers onto thin ice risking their necks just to catch a damn fish.

Stoddard Thorsen, FBI Supervisor, "We used to go ice-fishing every November. Ice fishing. That's all anybody - that's what we lived for."
From the movie American Hustle

A Minnesota man was sentenced to seven days in jail after pleading guilty to cheating in an ice-fishing tournament in February, 2013.
Alfred (Tom) Mead, 72, told the court that he had brought two pike to a fishing derby, to pass them off as catches from the event. The tourney's top prize was a $10,000 ice-fishing home.


According to Schott's Sporting Gaming & Idling Miscellany, the approximate calories burnt each minute by a fisherman weighing 150 lbs, is between 3 to 6.

If this is compared to sitting still, which burns 1 to 2 calories, and water polo, which burns 8 to 13, you could say that fishing is a pretty lazy sport. In fact you would burn more calories if you attempted some sort of yoga pose.

This is all good news to me. At my age and weight the last thing I need to do is burn calories. I'm actually thinking about substituting knitting for fishing, my old bones could do with a bit of a rest.

Of course, I'm only thinking about it, as long as I'm healthy I'll never give up fishing. I'll just make sure that when I'm on a river I'll spend more time sitting on a rock so's I'll have calories in the bank to do more fishing.

Off for a little nap.


Waders, I think, are what define a fly-fisherman from any other type of sports-fisherman.

Waders allow a fly-fisherman to step in to, and be a part of, a trout's environment.

The feeling of water running around my waders is the same feeling I get when I'm cozied up in front of the woodstove in winter. It's like Mother Nature has her arms around me. On the other hand I couldn't tell you how many times I've filled my hip-waders with Mother Nature. Most of the time I don't mind, in fact I seem to hook more fish when my waders are full. But sometimes it doesn't work that way, like the time I was checking on the status of a salmon river in mid-November. The busy beavers had built a dam downstream from a crossing that was usually calf deep but was now crotch deep. I had to try it anyway, taking the challenge and wading on tippy-toes like all good fly-fishermen are wont to do, only to fill both boots with icy cold water. It was a life changing moment. I learned my lesson that day and chest-waders have permanently replaced hippers (which are now gathering dust and spiders in my basement).

Most times the sound of water washing around my waders is like a mantra in my head. A soothing tune that reaches all parts of my body. I feel relaxed and at peace. Then again, when the river is in spring spate and spread throughout the woods, the noise blocks the song of the birds and my footsteps on the trail. This is not music to my ears but inside I am happy to see it; the river being replenished. I am not going to argue with the river, I know I won't hook any fish but I have to try anyway, just like any fly-fisherman would.

When I look down at my waders I see the waves they generate, like the piers of a bridge. And sometimes the piers collapse and carry me in a stumbling run before pitching me face down like a cannonball. It is then that I truly see a river as a trout sees it.

Oftentimes an adult fly uses my waders as a resting spot. To watch it drag its bedraggled body out of the water and crawl along the creases creates a feeling of awe that such a delicate creature is able to survive its watery birthplace. It gives me the chance to gently pick it up and study it before releasing it back into the water. It is only then that I realize I am using the wrong fly.

Waders used to be the most ignored part of equipment when I crossed paths with another fly-fisherman. I would be more interested in what fly he was using, and I would check out the size and type of rod, or the reel, or what it says on his hat (you can always tell a seasoned fly-fisherman by his hat). Now I look at the label on his chest and then ask him what fly he's using.

And how would we make good use of our time at the end of the season, if it were not for the hours spent in a darkened basement with a light bulb at the end of a cord searching for those little holes caused by walking through a raspberry patch?

Therefore, and using Newton's law of gravity, I conclude that, without waders, except when wet wading, we would all be just fishermen, standing on the bank, waggling a wand.


Duck crossing season.

The month of May is what I call 'duck crossing season'. It happens about the same time every year. Last week I got stopped twice. The first time was on route 333, the Peggy's Cove road.

A mother and ten little fluffy ones decided to cross from the ditch on one side of the road to the ditch on the other. I sat in my idling truck and wondered, as I watched these cartoon characters waddling across, what could there be in the other ditch that there wasn't in the ditch they had just left? Could there be more food, more water? I didn't think so, both ditches looked the same to me. But I'm not a duck. Then again I don't think they do it for a reason. I think they do it because it's there. The road, that is. I think they cross the road because it presents a challenge.

It reminds me of when I cross a river. All fishermen believe the fishing's better on the other side. And all fishermen know that's not true. The fishing's most probably the same on both sides. I cross a river for the challenge, especially a river I'm not familiar with. It's sort of like man against nature. Beating the river. Testing my ability. And when I've crossed there is a feeling of satisfaction, a feeling that I am a better person. Or at least a feeling that at my age I can still do it. The problem for me is crossing back. I usually take the wimps way out and find a shallow riffle somewhere.

What reinforced my thoughts on the duck crossing matter was the second time it happened. I was on route 103, cruising at a hundred klicks, on my way to take part in a fish survey in Kejimkuji, when out came the ducks. It was a fairly straight stretch, with similar countryside on either side of the road. I saw them well ahead of time and stopped without a problem. A semi coming the other way also stopped. Our four-way flashers came on, and we sat there, elbows on the steering wheel, chins cupped in the palms of our hands, and smiles on our faces. Another mother with twelve little ones this time. I couldn't but help think she was tempting fate. Crossing a major highway is to take your life in your hands, as many a porcupine angel will tell you. I could imagine the mother ducks heart pounding as she reached the broken yellow line. But when she reached the verge on the other side I swear she lifted her head, as if to say, "There, I did it."

I think I know that feeling.

From the Oxford English Dictionary :

1828 Hawthorne Fanshawe, A hook and line, a fish-spear, or any piscatorial instrument of death!
Piscatorialist, a professed angler
Piscatorially, in a piscatorial manner.
Piscatorian, an angler
Piscatorical, dealing with piscatorial matters

Of or belonging to fishing.
1854 Badham Halieut. Suggestive of old halieutic associations.
Halieutics: The art or practice of fishing; a treatise on fishing.
Halieutically, in relation to fishing.

Does this mean I'm actually a piscatorian wending my way through time halieutically? And to think I always reckoned I was a simple old coot drifting aimlessly down the river of life.
I AM A PISCATORIAN. Wait til I tell the fellers!

Why do I Fish for Salmon?

I don't know. I'm no good at it. I lack the concentration. Like the man said ... 'salmon fishing is ninety-eight percent boredom and when you hook a fish it's two percent terror'. The ninety-eight percent bit is just too much for me. I start to look around. I look at the other fishers, I look at the eagles, I look at the trees, I look upriver, I look downriver, and then my guide'll say, "Didya see 'im?" And I'll say, "Of course I saw 'im. I was just giving 'im a chance." Well, you can only get away with that once, try it a second time and your guide is likely to rip the rod right out of your hands and catch the fish for you.

I think I fish for salmon because I love the company. I love being with people that know more about salmon fishing than I'll ever know. People that have grown up on a river, waded it in their bare feet. People that predict the salmon will be running two days after the swallows arrive. And people that are born with the gift, eagle-eyed, dedicated to the fish, caring for them, and caring for the rivers. It's a humbling feeling to be in such good company. I'll never be one of them. I wasn't born here, nor will I live long enough.

The drought (2001)

I look up at the cloudless sky and wonder if we're in for another drought. I dread the thought. I dread the thought of a dry riverbed and of the trout trapped in little pockets. Little pockets that are getting smaller every day. I must get up there with a net if it happens again and try to get them down to the lake somehow. A waste of time really because the meat fishermen will get them anyway. And then there's the stress of the move. But if some make it for another year I'll feel right some good about it. I'll have to try. If it happens again.

Maybe it won't. Maybe we'll have enough rain to feed it, enough to maintain some kind of semblance of a river. Something that is recognizable as a river that is. This last year (2001) has been the worst of our four years of drought and the rivers have resembled boulder strewn deserts. I feel a deep sadness for the fish.

From my 2012 logbook ...
My Newfoundland friend called me last night to tell me that DFO, due to low and warm water, have pretty much closed all of the salmon rivers on the western, north-eastern, and northern shore. He said that in all his lifetime he'd never seen the rivers in such bad shape. After our experience with the Margaree I am not in the least bit surprised. What will those salmon do that never made it upriver before the drought started? Head back to Greenland is my guess. And it's a great loss of income for the guides, motels and cabins, etc.

ATV's (All terrain vehicles)

What can I say about ATV's. Not too much. In the right hands I guess they're ok, but in the wrong hands they're an ecological disaster.

It used to take an hour-and-a-half of hard walking with big packs on our backs to get to one of the fishing camps I used to stay in. It was a pristine, unlogged area. Then one year the one-man trail was flattened on either side by the knobby tires of an atv. I was saddened, it was the last year I was back to that camp. I mean, like half the challenge is in the getting there. I have just seen an advertisement that says half the fun (note the subtle word change) is in the getting there. The ad is for, you guessed it, an atv.

Next year I was on a river where the atv tracks led down to the river and didn't reappear until a quarter-mile up. It was in spawning territory for both the trout and salmon. And on another river the atv tracks crossed a five-foot wide feeder brook. The bottom of the brook had been gouged out.

My neighbour has an atv that he drives up and down his 400 foot long deeded right-of-way to get to the beach. It's not like he's too old to walk. In fact he is riding up and down as I write this. And there's nothing like sitting outside on a beautiful summers afternoon having his machine pollute the peace and quiet. It drives my dog mad.

One of the rivers I used to fish is inaccessible because they've put a gate across the logging road. I can't get back there, nor can my buddy Muddler who has a leased property with a camp on it. The atv's just go around the gate.

You know what I think? I think these machines should only be used by licensed operators or in emergency situations, or by people such as River Wardens, Firemen, Mounties or Park Rangers.
After all, if I and my kids have to take a test to drive a boat here in Nova Scotia, why shouldn't atv drivers also have to take a test?
On a concluding note, there have been eight atv related deaths in New Brunswick in the year 2001.

The Globe and Mail, Saturday March 23 2002
N.B. tightens rules for all-terrain vehicles
Fredericton. New Brunswick has taken tentative steps to tighten regulations governing all-terrain vehicles while steering around major safety and environmental issues arising from the irresponsible use of the machines. All ATV owners will be required to carry liability insurance, and children under 16 will have to take a safety course before they operate off-road vehicles. CP.

September 16 2002. The RCMP are responding to 500 complaints re ATV drivers and are proceeding with a 'crackdown' in Halifax Regional Municipality. Offenders will be ticketed, vehicles may be seized and no warnings will be given.

And that's all I have to say about that.

November 2005. The Nova Scotia Provincial Government has finally accepted most of the proposals made by the Off-Highway Vehicle Task Report! What I can't figure out is why Nova Scotia seems to be the last province to adopt such regulations. And the same goes for protecting our forests and fish. We, I think, are the only province that has ONE designated catch-and-release river.

TORONTO - Every year, 447 Canadian children under the age of 15 are hospitalized for all-terrain vehicle (ATV) injuries and the Canadian Paediatric Society says that number is on the rise.

All items $7.95 & up.

I am not of the understanding. How can all items be $7.95 and up? They're either $7.95 or they're above $7.95 but I don't see how they can be both. Or are my grey cells not working right?

I have seen similar signs so many times, with the 'and up' in little letters, that I guess the wording must be correct. It puzzles me though. Think about it.

From now on my logbook will read All fish 36 inches  & smaller.

This used to be the country

Hi folks,
I lived on a dirt road, once. About thirty five years ago. A one track side road. Had to pull over into someone's driveway if another vehicle came towards you. Everyone knew everyone. Always walked to the mail boxes at the beginning of the road. Nice little walk, not worth taking the truck over the potholes. Pheasants, partridge, rabbits, deer and raccoons walked it too. Owls and nighthawks patrolled it at night. Quiet.

It got paved about twenty years ago. I complained. They told me it was 'progress'. The beginning of the end. More houses. Now I hardly know a soul. And the natural wildlife has been taken over by scavengers such as crows and seagulls. In fact I can't remember the last time a deer chewed on our apple trees or trimmed the tops off our vegetables. No more rabbits, owls and the rest.

And now there's a move afoot to install street lights. I tell people they should move back to the city if they want pavements and lights. I like to look at the stars.
Three time-activated driveway lights from a newly built house just across the cove as seen from my dining room.

This used to be the country.
Just reminiscing.

Any Luck?

How many times have I heard that question?
"Yes," I said, "I fell in at the waterfall and didn't drown." Or, "The wife slammed the car door on my favourite rod but it has a lifetime guarantee."

Mostly I think I'm lucky to be alive and on a river. I'm lucky to have spotted a red fox on the drive, and I'm luck to have shared a river with three deer, and I'm lucky to have stood smack dab in the middle of a dragonfly hatch.

Instead of saying all that I tell them I've hooked a little one here and there. Mind you, I think I must have hooked those same little ones twenty times a season. I shouldn't say that because I don't suppose I meet more than ten people a year, when I'm trout fishing that is. When I'm pathetically pretending to pursue the salmon it's more like twenty people a day, and I have nothing to tell anyone.

I keep a logbook. I use the statistics to try and improve my hookup average. Sometimes it works and sometimes it don't. My logbook tells me that the sea trout should have been in three weeks ago. Up until today not a one has been seen. It also tells me the Light Cahill should be providing some excellent evening fishing but I think the nymphs are still wearing their winter overcoats.

As far as I'm concerned what it all comes down to is this...Luck, as far as fishing goes, is being in the right place at the right time.

I'm off to the river wearing my lucky hat.


Directions: Do not use on infants and toddlers. Do not use on rayon, dynel or acetate. Do not spray on plants. May damage furniture finishes, plastics and painted surfaces.

You'd think that would be enough to discourage anyone from using the stuff wouldn't you, and as a fisherman I've always known Deet was bad news. It melts fly lines, waders, clothing.

How bad it really is was brought home to me this year. The way I protect my head from the bloodsuckers is to spray my hat and then drop it on my head. When I'm finished fishing I usually throw the hat in the back of the truck, only this time I scrunched it into my vest pocket alongside my plastic fly box. Three days later, getting ready for another trip, I pulled the hat out and found it welded to the fly box.

I mentioned it to my wife. She's a pharmacist, a really good one. I got a lecture. Not because she was angry but because she was worried. She knows the danger. She quoted from Rachel Carson's Silent Spring and pointed out how I'm lathering an absorbent, plastic-melting chemical on my skin.

I know she's right and I need to find an alternative. I can't wear a mesh hood because I can't see my fly and the natural repellant only lasts twenty minutes, which is no good when you're on a river for six hours. What used to work was a cigarette in my mouth but I quit (and I still miss it).

The New England Journal of Medicine says that over a 40 year period Deet has been proven safe and effective with very few cases of side effects.

Reading that last paragraph leaves me scratching my head (I should show them my fly box). Deet has been proven to enter the bloodstream through application to the skin and I know that in 2004 Health Canada will be banning products containing over 30 percent Deet. So, unless someone has a better suggestion, I think I'll start off by using a product that contains less than 23.75 percent and see how that works, maybe you should give it some thought too.

Ok bugs, come and get me.

Mark Hamilton, in the August 2002 issue of Eatern Woods and Waters, echoes my sentiments with the following statement...
As an angler, it has been a while since I used Deet, having traded in the damage to my fly lines for a pleasant citrus smell. For people habitually in bug country, it now seems that the flycaster's avoidance of Deet stands us in good stead where health is concerned: Health Canada has decided to ban products containing more than 30 percent Deet, referring to studies which indicate that higher concentrations of the chemical did little to increase its repellance of bugs. Their concern comes from studies that show evidence of neurological damage in people who apply even small amounts of Deet for extended periods. Symptons range from the relatively minor--blisters, numbness of lips, and rashes--to more serious mood disturbances, insomnia, and impaired cognitive functions such as slurred speech, blurred vision and confusion.

The Weather

Mainly sunny with mainly cloudy periods.

Sunny and clear with a chance of thundershowers

Flurries. Low 6 degrees C High 0 degrees C (I'm still thinking about this one)

Being a fly-fisherman I check the weather every day, usually on-line. Not that it does me much good. Especially when I get forecasts like those above.
What I usually rely on is the thin stick nailed to the side of my barn. If it's pointing down we're in for damp weather. If it's pointing up it's gonna be hot and dry. And if it's in-between it's gonna be mainly sunny with mainly cloudy periods.

It's raining right now so I'm gonna put my waders on, go outside, take a look at the stick, and tell ya what's in the forecast.

Faith flies

If you were to ask twelve fly-fishermen to name their top two flies (one dry, one wet) none would agree on the same two. Some might agree on one and others might agree on another, but (short of a miracle) none would agree on the same two.

Some of their choices would seem kind of odd. You just have to wonder where these oddities come from, although I'm sure I have the answer. How can I be so sure? Because these oddities are what I call "faith flies," and I have a couple of my own.

All fly-fishermen have faith flies, ones they tie on their line and know will work - if they don't, then nothing else will.

A "faith fly" is usually one that a tyer has been told about, or seen in a magazine or an old book. It's one he'll tie up, look at (turning it this way and that), and instinctively know it will catch fish. If it's a dry he'll test it in a clear bowl of water and look at it from all sides (including the underside) and if it's a wet he'll throw it in the sink with the tap running and let the water swirl it around. Then he'll stick it in his fly-box for tomorrow, or tie it on his line and head straight for the river. On his first or second cast a fish will take it. He'll spend the entire time with that one fly on his line and he'll hook his limit. He's hooked too - his faith in the fly has been proven.

The next time he goes to a river that same fly will still be on his line, and it will work. During the course of a season that fly will only be removed when conditions are unsuitable (too high and muddy for a dry, too low and clear for a streamer). He'll try every combination of fishing it, upstream, across stream, downstream, in the bushes and in his ear. He'll try different colours and different sizes, and if he's really that crazy and passionate, he'll try it in salt water and on different species of fish. In the end he'll know everything there is to know about fishing that one particular fly.

To the faithless, it may seem that those of us with faith flies are obsessed or fixated. When it comes to faith, it's just not possible to have too much of a good thing.

I believe I'll tie on that old green-bodied, brown-hackled, number sixteen Klinkhamer and go hook a couple of fish.


Secret spots

There's a long standing debate amongst fishermen as to whether or not 'secret' fishing spots should be shared.

Friends usually think alike and, as far as I'm concerned, do not keep secrets. This was certainly Lesley's thinking when he showed me some of the places that he fished, and exactly the same could be said of Vern and Roy. Three friends who shared my love of the outdoors and prolonged my passion for fishing.

Living as I do three minutes from a river, and having lived in the area for nigh on forty years, I now knew their secret spots and had discovered some of my own.

I was aware that one particular section of the river was being abused on a regular basis by a couple of locals. They were each catching ten fish, hiding five in the bushes, going home with five and then coming back for the other five. And I didn't know of anyone, on the three sections that I fished, who was practicing catch-and-release.

So, I figured one way to change peoples attitudes was to encourage other catch-and-release anglers like myself to fish "my river."

In 2001 Inland Fisheries applied catch-and-release regulations to "my river." Without exaggeration, I would guess that there are now four times as many anglers up there as compared to two years ago. On the one hand I am happy to see how people are responding to catch-and-release, hopefully it will encourage them to practice it on all of the rivers and lakes that they fish. On the other hand it just goes to show what can happen when you share a 'secret' spot.

Tomorrow I'm off to the X and Y rivers where I'll know I'll not see a soul.

I am a trout

I am?

I've read, and heard, that to be a successful trout fisherman you have to think like a trout.

In that case I must be pretty stupid because today I caught two trout in conditions and locations where, if I were a trout, I wouldn't be caught dead. Now I come to think of it I would have been dead if I'd have been a meat fisherman.

I once watched a trout rising from a crack in a huge chunk of underwater bedrock. The crack was one mm wider than his body and he was rising to a hatch of grey fox mayfly in the middle of the afternoon on a bright, sunny day in a pool that is an osprey's favourite restaurant. And not only that but I hooked him! -- on a Light Cahill parachute. He was a nice nine-incher. Now was he stupid or was I thinking like a trout? I don't understand what I am saying.

Maybe I am a trout.

Flies time

"Flies time" I relate to any time doing or dreaming about fly-fishing.

Reverse those two words and you got Time flies.

I was feeling my age today. This happens about one in four times when I go fishing. I didn't know if I could make it back to the truck. My legs felt like lead and my left knee was having a heyday. My back hurt badly.

I knew right away, when we first crossed the bridge, that it was gonna be a struggle. I had a hard time just lifting my legs. Slipping and sliding and losing my balance on the rocks at the run wasn't too nice, let me tell ya. But I was in one of those moods where I'd not let this feeling defeat me. I was determined to get to where I was going, whether it be way out on the point or way up to the Round Pool.
So, I paid the price, but then again, I'm lucky to be able to.

Time flies.

Wind knots

As any kind of fisherman knows (and I include those at sea as well as on land), the wind is your enemy.

Something I've noticed over the past few years is the increase in the amount of wind we're getting. There seems to be more of it and it's stronger. Used to be we'd have our fair share of beautiful calm summer days, when the sunsets were unbelievable, but I don't see too many of them these days. And the same goes for the winter winds.

Maybe it's just me, maybe it's because I live right by the sea, or maybe we're in a cycle, just like the years when the fog and the humidity is never ending.

The change in the wind patterns bothers me though. The wind and sun dry-up the rivers and we've been having a drought for quite some time. I hope, for everyone's sake, that it's just a cycle.

Off to undo my wind knots in my line.

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Pat Donoghue, Canada, ©1997