The season for many of us is about to start again. We may have had a good year last year or perhaps a poor year. Whichever it was, this is not what the post is about.
For the duration of the season our life and the lives of many completely revolves around salmon fishing. This does not just apply to the guides but anglers who are regular visitors to fishing beats, fishing blogs, Fishpal catches, water heights and Facebook pages. Our sport has reached the 21st century and information is now readily available at the touch of a fingertip.
No longer does a week’s fishing only last 6 days. Mentally and practically it begins weeks before, updating tackle, buying or tying flies, constantly watching weekly catches and water heights in our spare time, anticipating our week in hope that the gods will be kind, providing an exhilarating sporting period.
Each day during the season my mornings begin with a cup of coffee and my IPhone, checking the previous day’s catches. This can give an indication and hope that any fish caught down river may pass my way today. The next step is to mentally plan the day by assessing river heights, weather forecasts and which pools on the beat are most likely to produce a good catch. Before heading to the fishing hut to meet the guests I am likely to be quickly adding the last coat of varnish to the flies tied the night before, securing rods to the car and then throwing on my tweeds, shirt and tie, all ready for the day ahead.
Six days a week for seven months a year our beloved sport rules my life and the lives of many other fishermen.
So what happens next?
The season has come to an end, and a void in my life has been created. The tweeds are hanging in the wardrobe, I find myself checking Fishpal out of habit, heading down to the river to work on some spey-casting, strimming the grass banks and completing general beat maintenance. Perhaps the odd trip after the grayling will scratch the itch but there is still something missing.
Some of us turn to plans for next season and hit the vice, playing with new patterns or copying successful patterns we have seen on the river bank the previous year. Again, the excitement builds as we fill our arsenal of flies ready for the spring.
On the other hand, perhaps the shooting season fills the gap and the carbon rods are replaced with side by sides, the tweeds are back out of the wardrobe and the buzz of the shooting season takes over our winters until February when the rods make an appearance once more.
Shooting is a big part of my life, but it does not seem to fill the same void. Instead I find myself looking to the southern hemisphere where the season is just beginning.
From wading the tropical flats for the like of bone fish and permit, to stalking backcountry rivers in New Zealand or perhaps chasing the locomotives of Patagonia; this is what fills my void. With international travel nowadays as easy as catching the bus, more and more of us are now looking further afield to fulfil our fishing/sporting needs.
We all have fishing destination bucket lists we dream about on idle days. Our curious, dreaming, adventure hungry minds become fuelled by hours spent on the web watching you-tube videos, buying strange, weird and wonderful flies used in these far-out destinations and soon the excitement builds once more.
I find myself at the end of the season not lost, but full of anticipation for the next trip.
This year my dreams are taking me to the far south of South America, to an emerald green river shadowed by snow capped peaks, groaning glaciers and the enormous Chilean King salmon. We are lucky enough now to share this destination with fellow fishermen who are looking to fill the void in their life during our fishing off season.
To some, fly fishing is a noble sport and a hobby, but to the few of us, it has become an addiction. The only remedy is hours spent on river banks chasing the unknown promises of what we could catch.