Suitable for Vegetarians.
I’ve gone through a bit of a melancholic phase recently, it feels like the spring has dragged its heels this year and my grumpy mood has done nothing to counteract it. The local river somehow appears to be a little lack lustre. I’ve checked the water regularly when passing but it’s felt like I’ve been short-changed by the frequency of rise forms. I’m sure there were more signs of life at this time of year in the past? Perhaps I’m being too eager and my memory is playing tricks on me, or maybe I’ve hit a plateau; the embryonic enthusiasm of the first 6 years or so of river fishing might have worn a little thin by now and it’s tainting my vision?
My fishing equipment is also niggling at me … the rigmarole of buying new kit and packaging yourself into wading gear was fun at first but getting all dressed up for fishing sometimes feels like too much trouble … I’ve obviously been far too busy sulking under the grey blanket of cloud that’s holding back a struggling spring this month, whilst letting the gloom and doom of recessions and all the dark stories from the media get the better of me? I’m not usually one to give in to negativity but this year my revolve has weakened … shame on me.
However, there’s a cycle to these things and just when one person’s mood dips, another’s can lift things back up again … my son Jack has shown more interest in the river lately, which has already lead us into fun new territory with the fly sampling; I’ve aimed to avoid imposing my hobbies on my offspring but it is encouraging when your lad shows an interest in something you’re into. Fishing is something I’ve considered a solitary pursuit for a several years but more recently it has become something of a social thing at times, the fishing focus suffers a though but the company adds to the pursuit. In my mind, the premise is not one of pre-conceived ideas but one of entering into the outdoors with an open mind, ready to engage with nature, living for the now and reacting in the moment … perhaps you don’t need anyone making that overly complicated but sometimes it’s nice to have some company; fishing can be great when done alone, it’s often described as the contemplative man’s sport but people can also enjoy it in all sorts of ways. It’s not wholly clear why we fish but perhaps it appeals to parts of the brain that the modern world neglects and getting out there allows us to find a more natural balance with our surroundings? Concentrating on the moment and letting the concerns of the past and future drift out of focus is something that is healthy on occasions, these things matter less in a wild environment … if this experience can be under taken with a kindred spirit, then all the better, these days I judge a person as a true friend if I can imagine going fishing with them … my lad has been an inspiration on this front lately, it’s encouraging when someone drags you waterside with a simple enthusiasm … once you’re out there, you wonder what was holding you back in the first place.
On this occasion the water was up and the weather was blustery with squally showers, so we were going to try trotting for trout, something we’d never done anywhere, let alone on the local river. Our club doesn’t allow juniors to fish at all and it wouldn’t be safe for a 9-year-old to wade anyway, so trotting with dad is a perfect introduction to fishing … traditional trotting is arguably not strictly coarse fishing and is allowed under the lease of our syndicate. The ‘bait and line’ thing is a bit different for anyone who fishes with the fly but it’s not dissimilar to French nymphing; holding a float back against the current comes naturally, anyone who is used to raising a sunk nymph at the end of a drift will know the principle. As a method, it’s not quite as mobile as fly fishing (assuming you’re not wading) but you can move about on the bank-side as much as topography permits; this wasn’t an overly serious expedition though and we didn’t spend all that long at it but we did have a few bites quite quickly and one particularly nice fish that we probably wouldn’t have caught via the fly. The other plus is that Jack got to eat more vegetables than he usually would, he’s a bit of a carnivore at home but there’s something about tinned sweetcorn scooped out the tin on the river bank that is difficult to resist. It was a successful day out and something different. My only regret is that I’ve neglected trotting for Grayling over the winter. I might spoil myself with a new centre-pin and focus on big Grayling during the cold months next winter. In the meantime, come coarse season, I might have a go for some of the big Chub using the method.
Some might turn their nose up at his type of fishing and whilst I can respect their view, I would suggest that it’s always good to keep an open mind. Fly casting with the dry is portrayed as a pure and elegant exercise but equally, it might also be deemed a little two-dimensional. I like to keep a broad perspective; I won’t be giving up fly fishing any time soon but traditional trotting is a relaxed alternative and makes sense in certain circumstances, particularly when water conditions are difficult … it’s definitely worth giving it a go on occasions.
Tight Lines, Splash (& Son)