The Best Medicine

With yesterday being a public holiday here in Tasmania, I whisked out to the North Esk River with Yappin’ Howell.

The plan (..or lack thereof) was to bush-bash down to the small river in a forested section, and cast dry flies to a heap of small brown trout. The plan was going fine, until we started fighting our way through head-high ferns. “Harden up you pussy” I hear you say…. but this part was ok, it was when I was leading the duo and swinging my arms wildly to disperse the fronds when I noticed my arms were on fire! Not literally, but they were burning hot. Initially I gawked straight at my arms looking for some sort of bite, but then I noticed the tiny little black spikes. Stinging Nettles!! The fuckers were everywhere and had covered my arms, the backs of my hands and a few digits. Now, more than ever, I needed to get to the water fast so I could submerge my throbbing limbs. If you’ve never copped the wrath of this hideous plant, picture eating shit on your skater with your arms buffing your fall. You would most likely end up with a few grazes which don’t hurt massively, they just burn and sting. Maybe I am a pussy after all.

We made it to the river and the cool water on my arms was almost like taking a sip on a cold beer….. “Aaaaahhh”. Yapper laughed at me but wasted no time in eyeing off the first likely hole while I miserably winced about. Ten casts or so and he’s on. The most beautifully coloured brown trout came to hand and we admired the red spots which seemed fluorescent. I fired off a few snaps and the little fish swam away. Stinging Nettles, what stinging nettles?

We continued on for about ten minutes going fish for fish until we had three each. They were loving the flies at this stage, with mine coming on a Brown Glister tag, and Yapper running his  so-called ‘Purple Fanny Tag’. Crazy-arsed name but it works! Soon after the sun rose in the sky a little more, penetrating the thick scrub every now and then, enabling us to spot fish. This was when we noticed that some fish were behaving bizarrely. Chasing each other about, grouping and pairing up, not spooking off and not interested in flies. It seems far too early but my guess is that these fish are getting ready to spawn. Perhaps the unseasonal cold weather of late has misguided their body-clocks?

We continued playing the game of ‘Your turn, if you catch a fish or miss a fish, it’s my turn’, which is always a great way to share the fishing when it’s too small for two casters. It’s always a great opportunity for me to take some photos when I’m not ‘on strike’ and I often learn a thing or two from my compadre too. Especially to be wary of your surrounds – It wouldn’t be the first time that Yapper has tried his best to embed a fly in my face!!

We ended the day hooking, catching or dropping a few hand-fulls of fish each and as soon as we got back to the car, I realised that my arms were stinging again. Fishing really is the best medicine.

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