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A Near Miss

An impulsive decision to leave the library and fish one of my favorite spots—in the Virginia highlands—led to a catch I will never forget. I had been stuck inside, at James Madison University, preparing for a test when my dad texted me that he was making the long drive to come fish a spring creek nearby. A warm front had just moved into the valley and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to hit the creek.

This creek offers exceptional sight fishing, consisting of gin clear water and offering plenty of hiding spots in the lush vegetation. There is ample food available for the trout—ranging from BWO hatches to small fall fish to an abundance of scuds. However, these fish tend to be very picky when the water is clear, requiring small nymphs fished on 5x or 6x.

What started off as a slow day, soon turned around. While stalking up the stream bank, I finally spotted a decent fish sitting behind a moss bed. His rosy cheeks and dark body stood out in the rich, green vegetation. I just watched him for a while, scared that an imperfect cast would scare him off.

Watching him occasionally eat, moving left and right as the food came to him, I finally made a cast but didn’t even get a look. I cast and cast but just could not gain his interest. I decided to throw on a secret scud pattern and boom, he finally took. I couldn’t believe it. He took me straight to the reel, and my click pawl drag was screaming for all to hear. He immediately ran upstream then bolted back, heading directly at me, eventually making his way downstream. I could feel every move and violent head shake he made through my 5wt Orvis Superfine Glass. After several long runs and an unforgettable 8-10 minute fight, I finally got him in the net.

Measuring 20.5” and weighing in at just under 5 lbs, this fish had an attitude.

Congrats on the beautiful Rainbow! Colin is a member of James Madison University’s Fly Fishing Club as a part of Trout Unlimited and Costa’s 5 Rivers Program. Check out more from Colin on his Instagram here.

6 Tips for Catching Peacock Bass in Miami

Going to school in Miami comes with its benefits and Flylords intern Jake Wood recently completed his first semester at Miami University. In our latest blog post, Jake weighs in on learning his new backyard fishery.

Urban Miami, FL boasts, in my opinion, one of the best Do-It-Yourself Fisheries in the Southern United States. And starting in Late February, it really starts to heat up. The canal system and lakes all connect, giving any angler an opportunity to target exotic fish from all over the world, including Peacock Bass. In this city, there is water everywhere you look, so, it’s important to know where, when, and how to fish this phenomenal and challenging fishery.

1. Don’t Be Afraid to Throw Meat!
Peacock Bass were introduced, along with a large number of other species to Florida in the 80’s for sport. Most of the fish average 10-14 inches, but the pride is in the fish over 3 pounds; those are the real bruisers. but all Peacock Bass are aggressive and fight like crazy. They are ambush predators who will show off with jumping and some vicious eats.

2. Strip Fast and throw Shiny Flies
Peacock bass are crazy aggressive hunters. Don’t be afraid to get some burns on your fingers from stripping your flies extremely FAST as these fish aren’t picky, anything shiny will get their attention. Keep in mind the man-made canals are often pretty deep, so something with a little bit of weight will give best results.  (Clouser Minnows, Deceivers, 239 Flies Legtastic Minnow with dumbbell eyes, or anything that will sink into the strike zone. You can also always use a sink tip or sinking fly line). If you choose to tie your own flies, anything with dumbbell eyes that looks like a fish will get eaten as long as you move it fast. As for gear: 6-8 weight rods, 12-20 lb tippet will get the job done. These fish fight hard for their size.

3. Target Structure In Canals
Focus on Structure, Bridges, and Pipes: Peacock Bass key in on natural and artificial structures for cover so they can ambush prey. Often times these structures will hold fish, so always throw a few casts around it. On a side note—Peacocks prefer rocks and down trees over grass

4. Use Google Maps
Google Maps/Google Earth is your Best Friend: It can be extremely hard to find access to the best looking spots, so using Google Earth and Maps is vital to finding fishable areas. Look for canals near malls, industrial areas, restaurants, etc in order to find easy parking and avoid driving all day looking for a pond with public parking (in general, the canals surrounding Miami International Airport have more parking than areas in South Miami). Google Maps/Earth will also help you find places with good bank access (look for grass), sidewalks or bridges

5. Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Make sure to always wear shoes around the canals, and keep an eye on your surroundings snakes and crocs like to hang around canals.

6. Be prepared
Be Prepared for Anything: My favorite part about the canals in South Florida is the species diversity. Along with Peacock Bass, you have chances at catching numerous types of Cichlids and Tilapia as well as Snakeheads, Largemouth, Arowana, even snook and tarpon.

This post was contributed by Flylords Intern Jake Wood, you can find Jake on Instagram @JakeWood14

Parenting Done Right – Go Fly Fishing!

Parenting is hard! Not as hard as fly fishing, but it’s tough man! Plus, it’s going to be hard whether you’re at home or in the outdoors, so get outside and take them fly fishing! Here are my trusty tips for taking your kid fly fishing.

First tip, head to a Timmy’s (or similar pastry establishment) and get your kid a box of donuts. Mom will likely frown upon this, but the promise of sugary pastries can keep your kid entertained for the quick drive to your fishing spot. They will inevitably crash from the sugar high, giving you the opportunity to rig up at the parking spot. Next up, sunscreen, new diaper, water, snacks, and anything you think the little gaffer will need because once they get in the backpack they will bug you for the one thing you forgot until they get it.

Get fit! You’re going to be hauling 30+ pounds of kicking, screaming weight and you don’t need your back giving out at mile #1. Retire that dad fat, run, do some squats, take a #bootygainz pic, post to your story, and promptly delete in 4 seconds. Also, this is a good time to get yourself a decent child carrying backpack. If you are a distracted and errant caster like me, it’s a REALLY good idea to get a backpack that has a canopy to shield from rogue hooks.

Bring your kid something to do, like a fishing rod! Definitely, take the hook off the lure they’re using unless you’re into shoddy piercings with rusted metal. If you chose to bring a fishing rod, make sure you periodically check that your child has reeled in the lure. Otherwise, you’ll be following their line for hundreds of yards trying to catch up to where they cast the lure 10 minutes ago as you waded upstream.

Pick an easy stream. This isn’t the time to prove to your fishing buddies how deep you can wade, or how you can scale cliff faces to get to that untouched lake. Rather, pick a stream that has plenty of fish that are ready to take a dry. The best times I’ve had with my son is hopper season out West where my son can watch a fish nail my hopper. You’ll never forget their reaction to a fish taking a big dry that they can see out on the water! It’s a good time to mention that fish handling is always priority #1, but quickly lift up any fish you catch so your kid can see and maybe touch it. Be prepared for them to freak out when you release the fish, as they have already deemed that fish as a suitable pet regardless of how they plan to get it home alive.

Pack light, as in, don’t pack like me. As a photographer, I’m a notorious over-packer and nothing changes when I add an extra 30 pounds to my gear. DON’T BE LIKE ME, pack light! All you really need are the essentials, diapers, change of clothes, snacks, water, 1 fly box, some tippet, nippers and a camera so you can prove to the world that in fact, you do still have a life.

Lastly, make sure to give your child lots of breaks. Just imagine being suspended by your crotch on the back of a sweating, I-didn’t-have-time-to-shower, caffeine junky for 6 hours straight. Not pleasant. But seriously, give your kid breaks as much as they need them. They’ll have a blast turning over rocks, looking for bugs, throwing sticks and trying to break your fly rod.

All joking aside, this is an important time where you’re teaching them to enjoy the outdoors much like you probably did as a kid. Always keep your child’s safety forefront in your mind and don’t worry about catching fish (the road was closed in the picture below). It’s all about the experience of getting outdoors with your kids. And hey, if it doesn’t work out and your kid turns out to be a shopaholic like mom then you’ll get a whole bunch of fishing time while they’re racking up the visa bills. Anything for fishing time, right dads/moms?

One last tip. Find yourself a good fishing buddy who is cool with a shorter and slower day, and who will be an extra set of eyes for your kiddo!

Thanks for the tips, Steve! Steve Longfield is a dedicated fly fisherman and father. For more for his work, check out Steve on his website and Instagram here!

Why You Should Stop Rigging Up in the Parking Lot

How often have you pulled into a popular fishing spot and seen people rigging up in the parking lot? We are not talking about pulling on your waders or lacing up your boots, we are talking about choosing what to fish and getting set up before you have ever looked at the water. This is a huge error that is common among anglers, often setting you up for failure before you even hit the water. Anglers simply choose from their favorite flies and put on whatever seems best for the day or whichever fly tickles their fancy in the moment without ever making any observations.

Observation is the difference between an angler that is consistently able to adapt and catch fish and someone that chooses flies at random and can’t replicate successful days on the water. The key is to understand what is happening in the water that day. Take time at the start of your day and periodically throughout to pay attention to what the bugs are doing and if the fish are responding. A good place to start is picking up a few rocks and looking at the bugs in them. Watch the drift and see if there are insects floating near the bottom, mid-column or on the surface.

For example during the spring and early summer stoneflies start to crawl toward the bank, hatching on the shoreline. Fish might go from eating smaller bugs to focusing on the stoneflies that have begun moving along the bottom, some becoming dislodged on their way.  Taking notice might be the difference between a few fish and one of the best days you have ever had.

On a recent winter guide trip, I had my client fishing deep, slow pools near the bottom with a sow bug. We had hooked into a fish here and there but it wasn’t as productive as usual. As I scanned the water, I saw a few midges coming off in a back eddy (pictured above) and watched as several fish moved into the area and set up in the middle of the water column and began feeding. We made the switch to a tight line nymph rig with 2 different midge patterns fished roughly 3 feet above the bottom, first cast, fish on! Second cast, fish on! And so went the rest of our day, we were able to consistently hook into a fish every 5 minutes or so.

Be observant on the water, it will allow you to make the necessary changes to find the fish. Some days will be more difficult to figure out than others but chances are that the fish are feeding on something!  Not being observant will rob you of the opportunity to grow as an angler, plus figuring things out is a large part of what makes fly fishing so much fun.

This post was contributed by Derek Olthuis, the founder of Trout Academy. Really excited to have Derek on board sharing his blog series with the Flylords fans! You can find him on Instagram here Derek Olthuis and TroutAcademy!

The Catalina Wine Mixer

Fly fisherman travel from all over the world to target salmon, trout, and steelhead in the northern part of the state while saltwater fly fishing in southern California is almost unheard of.

Fishing 12wt rods paired with 650 grain shooting heads is the norm here in SoCal. The Calico Bass is an inshore and island species that lives tight to structure and is pound for pound, one of the hardest fighting fish I’ve encountered.

Bobby Harrison, Alex Cady and I took advantage of the sheet glass conditions and the uncrowded oceans during the super bowl and made the run to our favorite spot, Catalina Island. This island is part of the Channel Island of California Archipelago that is situated about 25 miles off the coast of Orange County. The level of difficulty and effort to access this island keeps the fish populations healthy and plentiful. On any given day, you can find yourself alone fishing pristine water, targeting a myriad of fish.

Catalina Island is known for its giant Calico Bass, year around Yellowtail and tanks for White Sea Bass. Low and slow was the ticket for this winter morning. It’s rad to see their personalities change as the water warms and cools. The colder months are for experimenting with bigger flies, landing less fish but the ones you do land are usually a larger grade. We stayed tight to the beaches, threw our arms out and absolutely crushed it.

Targeting Calico Bass on the fly is still a work in progress. Producing bites and landing fish in the 5 pound range is something we as fly anglers, are very happy about. ‘Who’s going to land the first ever 10+ pounder?’

This post was contributed by Kameron Brown, you can find him on Instagram @kameronbrow

Photography by Bobby Harrison @_bobby_harrison_

Shoutout to Alex Cady a salt water guide working at “The Fly Stop” in San Diego – https://www.theflystop.com

Barracuda of a Lifetime!

I arrived in Australia a month ago, and I decided to go up to Exmouth. I had been there for just a week, and I was really excited to fish the remote Australian flats for Permit, Queen Fish and GT. I have never done that much warm, saltwater fly fishing before, so I got a bit disappointed on my two first days as I struggled to find the fish.

I decided to give a try on a few Black Tip sharks that I had spotted the two past days.

I took my 10wt. rod and rigged a 40-pound leader with titanium brain and a 0/8 fly. I took the car and went for a short afternoon fishing session.

I spotted a school of mullet cruising around a structure, so I decided to have a good look. A few minutes later that big black form came and started getting closer to the school of fish. First, I thought it was a shark, but he got closer to me and I realized that it was a massive barracuda swimming slowly around that school of fish!

He was twenty meters away from me. I held my breath and tried a first shot. The fly landed three meters away from him. I started stripping, and he seemed not interested at all by the fly. I took another breath and cast for the second time. This time the fly landed two meters next to him. I started stripping faster as soon as the fly reached the water to make a surfing effect.

I stripped three times and the cuda came and smashed the fly. The cuda gave me a show that I will never forget. He took seventy meters of line and jumped on the first rush. After two more nice rushes and another jump, he reached the bottom and started heavily shaking his head. Ten minutes after I hooked him, I landed him smoothly on the beach to take a couple of picture. I put him back into the water and watched as he went slowly back to the blue.

I have been lucky off after that to fish the flats of Exmouth with Brett Wolf, and I’m hooked. This is a really special and stunning place to fish.

Congrats on the monster barracuda! You can check out more from Nicolas on his Instragram.

The fish of a thousand casts

After moving to the Olympic Peninsula for a travel nurse job, I learned quickly that there was a reason why steelhead were referred to as The Fish of a Thousand Casts.

I was at the point where I was just starting to gain confidence in my fly fishing, and the pursuit of this amazing creature humbled me down quickly.
Winter steelheading is not for the light-hearted. It is an addiction, to say the least. It’s waking up before sunrise to get a few hours in before a long work day. It’s spending countless hours in the blistering cold water even when you’ve lost the feeling in your fingers and toes. It’s about spending many nights researching, learning the life cycle of these majestic fish. It’s also about knowing where to find them and how to hunt them. Finally, it’s about certainty. You have to be certain that when you go to make your first cast in the river that it might be your only chance for the day so you can’t mess it up. 

Five fish.
I lost five fish this winter and because of this, my hopes of catching a steelhead were not high. Now I was well aware that people go months without making a connection with one. I told myself, maybe I was lucky enough just being able to catch a glimpse of one. Anyone who has been bitten by steelhead addiction knows that catching one is a challenge. A challenge that only drives you harder, and if finding a steelhead wasn’t hard enough, landing one was just the other half of the equation.

With my fishing, I had reached a point where I was beyond disappointed with myself. Every time I lost a fish I remember thinking, “What am I doing wrong?” I never seemed to have any trouble previously landing fish so why now?

 It wasn’t until a cold morning on an Olympic Peninsula river with my friend and guide, Andy Simon, that it really hit me. I had just hooked and lost another steelhead when he turned to me and said, “Natalie, when you feel that tug you have to stop trout setting and you have to set it like you mean it or they will spit the hook every time.”

That was all I needed.

After that, I proceeded to gather my line to make one more cast but something was different. For a flicker of a second, I thought about why I loved to fish and not so much about catching a fish.

 I put my heart and soul into that last cast. As I stood there, watching my line unravel before me atop the crystal blue water, I went to make my first mend. It was at that moment that I felt a jolt in my hand. It was an old, familiar feeling that I knew so well. I didn’t have to think twice. I just knew that this time, she was mine.

 

Then something strange happened. I had a blackout moment because I don’t remember getting her to the net nor do I remember holding her in my hands. But I do remember one thing that I’ll never forget. I’ll never forget the excitement I felt when I released her into the cold water so she could continue on her journey or the warmness that spread through me as I watched her swim off.

At the end of it all, I sat there for what felt like an hour with a smile painted across my lips. I thought to myself, “That’s the feeling.” What feeling? The feeling I try to continuously explain when people ask why I love fly fishing.

This article was contributed by Natalie Ulicny, you can find her on Instagram @natalieann425

Best of Both Worlds: Saltwater in Hawaii & Freshwater in New Zealand

For numerous reasons, Hawaii is an incredible fly fishing destination.  Not only does it shelter trophy bonefish, it harbors a healthy population of the big, strong and wary species.  But foremost, the most amazing feature of the Hawaiian Islands fishing locations is that they virtually resemble Jurassic Park…Just out of this world!

As to New Zealand, it’s all about exploration and adventure. You never know what you’ll stumble upon.  You’re driven to carry on just in case that 15-pound brown trout is just around the next boulder.  It’s not uncommon at the end of the day to realize that it ended up being a 20 kilometers journey.

Rainbow dry fly fishing is such a thrill.  It begins with a tranquil look out atmosphere spotting the fish holding in slow water.  Excitement arises as you try to sneak up, slowly making your way towards the best casting area. But the mind-blowing moment happens when you gaze at that marvelous creature coming up with an open mouth towards your fly.  Instinctively, you set the hook. I am totally addicted to those three seconds of pure madness.

There are several brown trout fly fishing methods but, in my opinion, the one that provides more accuracy and satisfaction is definitely with a 16ft leader and a small nymph on a clear as gin creek!

New Zealand is well known for its rivers and streams, but the saltwater fishery is just as worthy. The kingfish is probably the most popular catch but the Kahawai definitely has a fighting spirit.  When you hook one, beware….they just bounce all over.

When you imagine fly fishing in New Zealand you visualize a remote area and a long trudge to access the best spots.  Surprising enough, sometimes the catch is hiding very close by.  You may actually just drive over it crossing a bridge. Once you’ve experienced the exploit, it’s quite difficult not to stop on every bridge making the excursion a little longer than intended.

Alexis is the host of the tv show Hooke living in Wanaka, New Zealand. For more, check out Alexis Pageau on Instagram and Vimeo.

Monster Bow In Idaho: A Winter Fly Fishing Tale

In the depth of an Idaho winter, when the water is cold and the fish are hungry, there’s one place, in particular, I like to go. Obviously, I can’t say exactly where, without being shunned from my favorite place on earth. During the summer months, these fish are impossible to catch as they move back into “no fishing zones” where they can beat the summer heat and lurk at the bottoms like the whales they are.

When the food is sparse and the winter is harsh, they are forced out in the open where I can see them. Along with dozens of good size fish lay a giant. A dark mass at the bottom of an ice clear stream, trying not to spook her I manage to get several casts with my 5 wt, into her direct path, landing three 16″-20″ rainbows in the process.

I decide to change my fly to something juicier, something she couldn’t resist. I couldn’t believe the weight at the end of my rod as she darted upstream, then straight back down, taking me downstream with her, running in the ice cold water, almost falling on my face. My rod was bent all the way down, feeling the weight of fish had me nervous I was going to snap my tiny 5 wt trying to land this beast.  I yelled at my husband, Tyler, to get the net, he swiftly replied… “I forgot it..” Panic sets in thinking I may never get to admire this fish up close and personal. Now I know, my only move is to tire her out and slowly reel her in slowly.

After a 15 minute fight, I had her in my grips. She was massive. 30″ on the dot and between 10-12lbs. I didn’t even know how to hold her she was so big. After snapping a couple quick pictures, we put her back where she belonged, lurking the depths and refusing flies. She was the biggest trout I’ve ever caught thus far and I was happy to see her kick water at me as she swam away.  Every once in a while (quite rarely), your day of fishing goes exactly as you hoped it would.

I wish I could tell you she was the biggest fish in there… but she wasn’t. There were bigger ones, smarter, not falling for your fly and I’ll be back for them.

Congratulations to Emily on her biggest trout to date! For more, go check Emily out on Instagram here

Guide’s Day Off

The clock is punched on another river day. Sun starched, glare glazed, muscle sore and emotionally spent, there is not much else on my mind than a cold beer back at guides’ quarters, and a leisurely reflection of the day with fellow guides Mark and Stu. Any self-respecting client might do well to avoid this one! Another cold beer, by the fire this time, and I am warming to the occasion. Clients are most welcome again. Now maybe even a savored cigarette and the power down process is complete. By this stage I’m positively wallowing in the endorphin glow brought on by 12 straight hours of being ‘on’ out and about on the water, in the bush, busting a gut trying to figure out how to hook up to fish that will be released with some guys I barely know, but automatically like because they have chosen to be here, same as me.

It is every bit as crazy as it sounds, and I wouldn’t expect anyone who hasn’t experienced it to understand it; it seems there are no limits to the lengths that we will go to achieve fulfillment within the realm of catching fish. This ‘pursuit of fulfillment’ business makes for loaded days and each river day demands and earns your full attention. There isn’t even time for, let alone sense, in contemplating what is on the cards for tomorrow; you’ll just miss out on something today. If you’re going fishing anyway, what else is there really to it? As cheaply and easily as the sweaty minutes stack up during the day, each one is valuable currency, and will be desperately rued if carelessly spent.

Much later, over a low fire and a night cap, a conversation lull signals that we’ve exhausted today’s offerings. Thoughts organically tend towards the next installment and I realize that I actually have a day off tomorrow. A rare occurrence, I have been engaged in a lengthy struggle to get my head around the best way of dealing with these anomalies over the seasons. My first thought reaches for the obvious: a lie-in and the golden chance to try and restore the sleep balance back into the black. The immediate response to this is to reload another drink and launch back into the fireside fray, shrouded in the safety net of knowing that I won’t have to regret it at 5am tomorrow morning. Now that I’ve been released from the fate bound certainty of a full day of guiding, these prized minutes are wide open and empty, and mine to fill.

Remembering that a day off is a day specifically removed from the action front, there really should not be much to them, and definitely not enough to write about. Anyone casually enquiring what a day off might consist of could receive a reply containing some permutation of the following basic options. High up on the list would be the cherished lie-in (Sleeping In), as would the chance to reconnect with people back home and around the world, catch up on some admin, and also log some quality down time, away from the river and the relentless pursuit of fish. All sensible options that will be unquestionably accepted, and even approved of by anyone not knowing any better. 

It’s pretty much a given that I will stay up too late tonight because I can sleep in tomorrow, but I’ll give it a shot for sure.  Midway through a guiding season, sleep is a premium, and definitely something that will come back and haunt you at some critical point later on if passed up on! But I happen know from experience that this is a low percentage play, because if the fellow guides don’t wake me on their way out, the kitchen definitely will. Not to mention the body clock kicks in in full panic mode before the usual alarm time anyway, which makes a return to slumber very difficult. In the context of a season, one lie-in stands out like a tree in the path of an avalanche, and wouldn’t make a huge difference to the cause!

Once you’ve accepted that sleep is not really an option, you might think that the morning could be a great chance to catch up on some admin backlog- sort photo’s, write up last week’s blog, dip a toe back in to the other world of internet and emails, and maybe tie some flies and sort out my gear. Although guiding as a profession is gratifyingly streamlined in essence, there are sideshow aspects that do need to be taken care of, and in the full-on full-off rhythm of guiding, they often fall by the wayside. However, this is another that pulls up flawed. Despite being important and worthwhile, admin here is like admin anywhere- it is done best and most efficiently only when it really needs to be, and free time can be much more meaningfully spent!

In the afternoon, it might be great to get out of camp and away from the river on a bush drive, or maybe just do as little as possible and watch a movie in guides’ quarters. Being on the river all day every day can sometimes make you feel like you’re in a bubble, and there is some muted appeal in breaking out. And there is no escaping the fact that as guides we are constantly at the sharp end of our clients’ expectations of catching fish, and this pressure, although entirely justified, can be a relief to escape momentarily. An anti poaching patrol, hunt or logistical errand sometimes offers the chance to ride out in one of the hunting vehicles and see some countryside beyond the thick riparian horizons, bumping along light of the load of client responsibility.

This idea of escaping the river is probably the best disguised as a good way to spend time off, and has represented the trickiest one to decipher over the seasons. There is no obvious flaw as it is presented, and it has some fundamental truth to it, no doubt. What I have come to realize is that where the river may have come to subconsciously be associated with a certain pressure and a day off represents the chance to escape it, the answer isn’t to escape the river but actually to embrace it. This is the golden chance to rediscover the magic of the river as the clients I guide experience it, and the only way to do that is to simply be on it on my own terms. And funnily enough, the best way to do this, I have found, is with a fly rod in hand. The river is at the heart of why I am here, it’s the center of our small, special universe, so to turn my back on it even for a day would be sacrilege. The way I have come to see it when faced with a day off, a guide with the best intentions has very little option but to accept the eventuality that his time will be best spent on the water with rod in hand. Hardly a revelation for a fishing guide at a world-class fishery with time on his hands to arrive at maybe, but I got there in the end!

As for guides’-time fishing, it truly is a spectacle in itself. Stripped down to the very bare necessities it is raw and uncut and may be the purest form of fly fishing known to man. All at once, it is dusting off old favorite tricks, and trying out new ones learned from clients. It is fishing the best-known spots the best-known way and trying something completely new at a spot you’ve always had a hunch about but never hooked fish at. It is about catching fish of any size, while at the same time only about casting a line for the sake of it. It is about fishing our waters the way they should be fished. Most acutely it is about being in direct contact with the river itself, and finally allowing yourself to jump off the cliff that guiding can only bring you right to the edge of.

Barefoot and stripped to the waist, armed with mismatched rigs and hastily tied or repaired flies, the guides fish while our boat drifts and spins with the current as no one can bear or care to stop casting long enough to correct its path. Backcasts are not part of the protocol and flies are fizzing around the boat like an angry swarm of bees without a hint of an apology, nor for a second is one expected.

 It’s all about making the cast, a cast, any cast and nothing else. The fishing swings between manic bouts of frenzy as we seek our fix and long lazy drawn out drifts as we revel in it, and we howl with laughter and genuine surprise at every fish dropped. Maybe we aren’t that much better than our clients after all! Each fish caught is admired with new eyes and a new respect for its fighting qualities. No need for pictures, these sessions will not be forgotten easily and will be returned to often over the coming guiding days. Not only are they a reminder of how challenging and rewarding the fishing is, but also of everything that we love about the pursuit of these fish, and of course fulfillment. 

Greeting the river weary guests and guides as they arrive back in the evening, these details of the day off are brushed over lightly, and if pressed as to what I got up to, I will reach for one of the trusty combinations mentioned earlier. But Mark and Stu will know that the shining eyes, renewed energy, and glowing grin are not the result of catching up sleep or accomplished admin, but they will recognize straight away the symptoms of a day off spent the best way possible, and will soon be hounding me for details. And the truth remains, if the best indication of a day off well spent is the eagerness to return to the fray, then it doesn’t get any better than this.

This article was contributed by Greg Ghaui, with @touretteflyfishing.
Photography was provided by:
Mark Murray @markslc01
Stu Harley @stuart_harley_
Matt Harris www.mattharrisflyfishing.com
If you are interested in booking a trip, please contact Tourrette Fy Fishing, or send us an email Theflylords@gmail.com

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