Run to the Hills

I’m often faced with a quick decision about fishing these days. When sneaky little windows of oppor-chancity present themselves, one needs to have some options to consider, based on the conditions.

At this time of year, some river levels can be running a little full or dirty for enjoyable fishing. Don’t get me wrong, they can be down-right productive too! Sometimes though, I find myself craving some early-season dry fly lovin’ and like to run into the hills to explore headwaters. Especially when by myself. While they might seem tiny and hardly worthwhile to many, I simply adore them. The tiny micro-worlds harbour so much more than a quick flick, to me. The enormous sense of nostalgia when a tiny brown trout with bright spots hits that dry takes me back to my childhood, flicking unweighted slaters or grasshoppers to ‘mountain trout’ (galaxias) and small brown trout.

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My first session for this season consisted of just that, except the grasshoppers were now imitation beetles and my appearance represents nothing that is child-like. My inner emotions however, were dancing with innocent behaviours, only marginally dampened by the fact that I found no less than six dead-lines, spanning this tiny headwater creek. It was like a kick to the guts, followed by a kick to the nuts and quickly snapped me out of my juvenile state. I initially felt so offended, so damn pissed off. After all, this was my creek to satisfy my objectives. The dead, undersized trout on the end of one of the lines only accelerated my mood.

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Am I a fly-fishing snob? Have I not considered that many rat-bags would have set a ‘deaddie’ as a kid? Do I not leave an element of grace for folk that wish to fish illegally in tiny headwaters? You know what – fuck that, that was then, this is now and times have certainly changed. I reefed those bastards out, took them home and tossed them on my burn-pile. I guess I could have re-used that 50lb mono but burning it represented so much more. I mean, you would barely even find anything worth eating in a water this small, hence the senseless act, in my opinion.

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You see, even as a kid ‘setting deaddies’ didn’t appear cool to me. Some of my mates set them, but as I wasn’t a meat-harvesting fish-eater, it just didn’t make sense. I still went along for the ride on several occasions, because that’s what kids do. All of the tiny fish I caught on my various unweighted bugs, however, were let go. Not because ‘catch and release’ was going to give me a pocket-full of street cred, but because I simply enjoyed the finding, stalking and catching element of the whole scenario – Even then, at a tender eight-years-old. It is only these days, upon reflection, does fly fishing make sense. I think I was always a fly fisher at heart, I just didn’t own a fly rod as a kid.

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