Fly fishing lesson one: you never stop learning

2010-06-19 00:00

FLY fishing is a fickle mistress. One minute you are enjoying her warm embrace, each cast an artist’s brushstroke, your fly in absolute command of the trout’s attention. Then, moments later, every piece of vegetation assaults your fly line and the disdain on the fish’s face becomes apparent as your pattern inexplicably dissuades any possible suitors.

Frustrating it can certainly be at times, because the truth is that you can be doing everything right from your stealthy approach to your delicate presentation and provocative retrieve, succeeding to entice the trout, who sidles right up to your offering, only to turn its nose up and amble away.

This can quickly turn to exasperation when your partner to the left, using the exact same rig, induces the very same fish to make his reel sing — an insult to compound the wounded pride.

So the first lesson you have to digest in your fly fishing pursuits is that you never stop learning.

Even those zealots who have been attending the Bells Corporate Trophy Challenge for the last nine years have discovered that each outing on the water brings fresh revelations about the fussy feeding habits trout exhibit as winter beckons.

Of course, many will argue that this illustrious event has nothing to do with fishing at all, with more hours being spent in the legendary Notties pondering the philosophical side of fishing over a wee dram than any activity at the water’s edge.

But as the answers to age-old debates about the merits of mating versus feeding fish get more convoluted, there is little doubt that the longer your fly remains in the water the better your chan­ces will be.

Shrugging off the repercussions of grand opening festivities, 64 rather meek fly fishermen managed to keep their lines wet for the first session and netted an impressive 126 specimens in total. This was a feat made more considerable when it became apparent that a quarter of the contestants had never lifted a fly rod before.

There’s nothing more refreshing than a new convert to our entertaining sport. Aside from the obvious thrashing that ensues, I never tire of seeing someone feel the weight of the fly line come into play as it dawns on them how basic casting really is.

Although hardly a guarantee on one’s first outing, the sensation of a line going taut is as close as one will get to that incre­dible feeling again.

And when Frank Ferguson landed the 57 cm rainbow cock fish, I knew that yet another good man was hooked.

The second session of fishing on one of WildFly’s 16 exclusive waters saw 105 feisty trout recorded, with the highlight being Akhtar Desmukh’s first fish in three events — a 52 cm beauty.

As always, the voices of reason were drowned by the din of tales being recounted over a glass of extra-special that evening.

Spawning fish, that is to say fish showing signs of spawning behaviour, are surely the derivative of the word cock-tease. In the gin-clear waters, patrolling up and down an inlet or any structure for that matter, you will witness a hen fish being chased by multiple cock fish and you are quickly convinced that it is you they are teasing.

Food is no longer their main motivation to exert any movement and as such the attractor patterns are soon sailing through the air in the hope that the bright colours will aggravate the territorial fish enough to strike.

Predictably, the third session of this catch- and-release tournament didn’t produce as many takes, with only 78 sought-after fish succumbing. When you do the maths (64 rods by three five-hour sessions), nearly 1 000 hours of rod pressure was definitely making the fish extremely fly-shy by this stage.

As you can imagine, by the last session the average angler had changed fly at least five times, so there wasn’t much that these wary trout hadn’t seen stripped through the water.

The teams determined to make it into the coveted final had to dig deep into their fly boxes and generally opted for smaller patterns on longer leaders, but still only convinced a mere 59 fish that a free meal was on offer.

In total, the WildFly waters yielded an impressive tally of 368 feral trout with many eclipsing the half-metre mark. The largest fish of 60 cm was estimated at eight pounds and went to Steven Friend from Team Grinaker … give that man a Bells!

Six teams advance to the final, in order of placing: Weekend Witness , White Wooly Buggers, Dagon, Bearing Man, Dammit and the winners of the first leg, Leads 2 Business.

The most important thing to remember about fly fishing is that you have to believe that every cast can and in all likelihood will produce a fish.

For the remaining two qualifying legs of the Bells Corporate Trophy Challenge, I certainly hope that the trout agree.

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