Christmas and lots and lots of free time to go fishing is just around the corner, but until then, I’m having to get by on scraps… An hour here, an hour there, half a day sometimes if I’m lucky… This time of year is always hectic, but I’m trying to fit in as much fishing as I can, even if its only half an hour on Merri creek chasing carp with the fly rod. As I brave peak hour or slip out for a fish on my lunch break, I’ve been thinking about what makes fishing so enjoyable… While in pristine environments the old cliche “its not about the fish” rings true, that doesn’t really apply when you are sharing the waterways with beer bottles and shopping trolleys. One of the things I love most about fishing is the places it gets you to and the times of day it has you up and about. When most sane people would be home in bed or at least in the safety of their tents, not trying to scramble home in the dark because the torch you brought doesn’t have batteries and even though you found this out while it was still light, the fish were on… I cant count the number of times I’ve forced myself out of bed at a ridiculous hour or pushed through extreme sleep depravation to have “just a few more hours”, driven by the thought of catching fish, only to find myself on the water an hour later, not fishing or even thinking about fishing as I expected, but just watching a sunrise or sunset, gazing at the stars, watching a storm build as the day progresses and finally break. Watching all manner of different life go about its business, swifts riding a storm front, snakes chasing eels in tiny creeks, gannets plummeting headfirst towards the ocean, whales feeding, dolphins playing in the boats bow wave, sea eagles expertly picking fish off the water and somehow carrying them back to their nests a feat of seemingly herculean strength, the list goes on and on and on. All moments where I am in awe of whats around me, the places fishing takes me and how lucky I am to be there… So there is definitely something to the “its not about the fish” cliche….
However, there is also more too it. While trying to avoid shopping trolleys and floating plastic bags I’ve been thinking about what that is… Because even in these seriously compromised urban environments, the feelings can sometimes be similar. Spending time in areas that most would simply write off or ignore, fishing makes me appreciate these areas in a way I never ever would otherwise… Suddenly the rubbish is in the back of my mind and I’m watching a tiger snake chasing skinks in the grass, the ducks diving amongst the weed beds, the insects living out their lives in front of my eyes, hatching, courting other sexy insects and getting lucky. There is profound beauty in these areas once you pay attention. The only reason I do, is fishing, there would be no real incentive to bother otherwise. It has got me thinking, maybe its the attention that you need to pay to whats around you when your fishing that adds to its magic… To be successful, you need to find the pace that nature happens to be going at in that spot at that point in time. As anyone who has gone back to the same spot time and time again knows, its very rarely, if ever “the same”, things are always changing, it looks almost the same, but the details, they are in constant flux. You need to be aware of all the things going on around you to give yourself the absolute best chance of catching a fish (or at least spooking one with a bad cast)… Doing that you notice far more of what is happening than you otherwise would. This attention to detail, adds something to all those beautiful moments and can make “ugly” places beautiful. While fishing you are somehow more “connected” to whats going on, less distracted, making those moments even better than they would have been otherwise… So maybe the cliche is right, its not about the fish at all, even in compromised urban settings…
Nah, the fish are pretty important. While a lot of enjoyment for me that comes from fishing comes from those bonuses, the fish are a hugely important aspect of it… I can be very happy with a fishless session or two, maybe three or four if I am at least seeing and losing fish, but once I’ve strung together more than a few fish-less sessions, it really does become all about the fish. In the end, what drives me to get out there is the adrenaline rush. A bowwave behind a popper, a trout rising to a dry fly, the crunch of a kingfish hitting a jig, sighting the first flash of a hooked fish, the drag screaming on the first run, the nerves as a fish runs for cover and you do everything in your power to stop it. Without the promise of that rush, I wouldn’t be getting up at 3:30 in the morning when it pouring with rain after only two hours sleep, yanking a hook out of my face because removing it properly would mean going home, fishing through rainstorms and returning to the the car shivering… In the end that is the drug, and what a drug, because without it I’d probably still be in bed or at home a lot more of the time, missing out on all those “its not about the fish” moments that make fishing such a wonderful pastime…
Thanks for reading, I promise we will have some actual trip reports and proper fishing stuff up soon, rather than my inane office ramblings. Lee and Dan both have good posts they need to finish and I’ll be posting lots of stuff once I finally go on holidays (as well as reports from a few bigger trips before then (hopefully), mudeyes hatching in the lakes around Ballarat and the first mission chasing squid on fly)… Good luck over the holidays!
Postscript: I decided to go and get a few shots for this post… As you would know if you follow us on Facebook I dropped what would have been a PB carp on fly a few days ago… Well I got to my favourite little hole put my bag down and went searching for some fish… I saw one small one and was about to cast to it when in the corner of my eye I saw puffs of mud floating down the creek. I went to investigate and there was a nice carp, that looked in the “respectable” category head down in the weeds… I waited for it to poke its head out and I cast my fly. As the fly drifted past the fish about six inches to the right of its head it turned and aggressively took the fly. What ensued was an entertaining fight- I had hooked my carp in the weed beds and it took quite some maneuvering to get it out… Once in open water I could relax and play my fish… Within a few minutes I had him near the bank and this time made no mistakes and actually landed it. Pretty sure it was a PB, I used my leader to measure it, running it along the fish and cutting it off at the size of the fish. Then it was time for photos, so I went to grab the camera which was about 30 meters away. On my way back, I couldn’t see my fish, it wasn’t where I had left it. Running I got there just as it hit the water flapping. I ran after it and almost had it, one hand almost got a hold of its tale and I seriously considered jumping in after it and wrestling it to shore again but the nagging “its just a carp” stopped me doing anything too stupid… So no photos, but it was a PB carp on fly 79cm and probably somewhere in the 6-7kg category… I’ll just have to catch another one for the blog I suppose 😉